By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte assured the speedy recovery of typhoon-hit Lanao del Norte as he extended condolences to grieving families of those who died in the storm and looked forward with hope to a better new year for all Filipinos.
“We’re ending the year with a big bang of sorrow and agony. I just hope that next year Allah would be kind enough to give us a new beginning. I just hope that it would turn out that way,” the President said.
He gave the assurance that recovery of typhoon-hit areas will be swift as he spoke at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) briefing with local government officials in Tubod, Lanao del Norte on Wednesday.
He said the government will try to expedite the process of meeting the needs of the victims of tropical storm “Vinta,” adding that he has already instructed department heads to do their job.
“I’m sure we still have some money to spare and supplies to share with you,” Duterte told the local chief executives.
“It’s in the departments concerned and I will just order them to come here and do their thing, in whatever aspect they are supposed to deal with,” he added.
Among the concerns raised by the Lanao del Norte mayors are the severe damage to major infrastructure such as bridges, farm-to-market roads, irrigation system and government vehicles.
Duterte tasked the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine Air Force (PAF), and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to help in the speedy recovery and restoration of the province.
He, however, asked the local government officials for their cooperation.
“Magtulungan na lang tayo (Let’s just help each other). We will provide the equipment. I hope they are nearby so that they can be transported here. So they can come here and do the job immediately,” he said.
Based on initial government reports, at least P38 million worth of damage to agriculture was recorded in Mindanao alone.
Duterte assured that the agriculture sector will be rehabilitated immediately, instructing Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat to address the matter.
Duterte also extended his condolences to the families of those who died during the typhoon.
“Napakalungkot ho sabihin (It’s sad to say) but we will end the 2017 with a bang of so many deaths of Filipinos, ranging from carelessness to accidents and the typhoons,” Duterte said.
“There seems to be a sorrow prevailing in the country today and it was not already a good Christmas day for all of us, thinking that there are persons suffering,” he added.
According to Duterte, it is now time to face facts that catastrophes such as typhoons will always come with a price.
It is a reality. And the Philippines is like a window. And, wala hong katapusan itong pagdudusa ng Pilipino (The Filipinos’ suffering will never end). Might as well take it as a reality on the ground that it comes in numbers every year,” he said.
“We will continue to suffer damage, of course, additional expenses. These are the things which we do not anticipate,” he added.
Duterte, however, remains hopeful that 2018 will be a better year for the Filipinos, especially in the areas affected by catastrophes.
Duterte also cited climate change as one of the main reasons for the recent typhoons.
“There seems to be no let-up in the typhoons that batter the country today. I don’t know if the climate change that they have been talking about really had something to do with the greater and more deaths than before,” he said.
In a media interview following the NDRRMC briefing, Duterte addressed the deforestation issue in Mindanao as also being the cause of such tragedy.
“Well even in those places where there are trees, for example, like America and Europe, they all have taken care of their… It’s the precipitation that is actually the [cause] of the matter,” he said.
“It is climate change… nothing can hold the soil from being loosened and tumbling down, but more of the water in the heavens. It’s like cats and dogs raining all the time,” he added.