‘We learned a lot of lessons from Yolanda’ –-Roxas

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Jan. 23 (PNA) – Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II admitted on Thursday the government had learned plenty of lessons from super typhoon “Yolanda” that severely ravaged Eastern Visayas last November.

Roxas, however, emphasized that the government is committed to help the “Yolanda” survivors to bring their lives back to normal.

”We learned many lessons here and now we have our obligation to help bring the lives of the people back to normal,” Roxas said in a congressional briefing held at the Senate on the natural and man-made disasters that hit the country last year.

In his report to the congressional oversight committee, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin reported that a great number of death was caused by the storm surge that hit Samar and Leyte, particularly Tacloban City.

”Electricity, water supply, communications, ports and thoroughfares were severely affected,” Gazmin, who is also chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said.

The typhoon, with international code name “Haiyan,” left 6,201 people dead, 28,826 injured and 1,785 still missing, according to the NDRRMC report.

Gazmin said the damage to infrastructure amounted to P18.3 billion, excluding over one million damaged houses and P18.7 billion to agriculture.

The DND chief said all the concerned national government agencies responded to the disaster, with the Department of Health (DOH) spending P351 million for medicines and medical assistance and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) giving out P178 million worth of food packs.

Gazmin also reported that international pledges from 30 countries had already hit P23.798 billion, including P16.78 billion in-kind donations.

Gazmin told the panel that the government still needs to improve prepositioning of assets, manpower and relief goods in strategic locations “beyond the direct path of typhoons.”

”We still have to improve communication system, power supply and establishment of safe evacuation centers and accompanying facilities,” he said.

He also said the government is also focusing on management of the dead and missing persons, particularly Disaster Victim Identification (DVI).

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon lauded the government for working hard to help the “Yolanda” survivors even as he urged the officials to come up with stricter policy to protect the donations, specially those coming from foreign donors.

”It would be nice to see that we have a policy to safeguard donations in the disaster-hit areas, specially those coming from international donors,” Biazon said.(PNA)