Items filtered by date: Saturday, 23 December 2017

Damage by ‘Urduja’ reaches P1.5B

Aerial survey of Tacloban flooding conducted by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
MANILA – Damage from Tropical Depression Urduja has reached an estimated PHP1.5 billion, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Saturday.

Agriculture sustained about PHP869 million in damage, and infrastructure PHP581 million, NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad said.

A total of PHP1.45 billion in estimated cost of damage was recorded in parts of Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Davao.

A total of 12,041 houses were damaged — 2,918 totally and 9,123 partially — in Eastern Visayas and Caraga.

The death toll remained at 45. Of the number, 41 are still being validated by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

A total of 78 people were reported injured in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte and Biliran; while 46 were reported missing — two in San Francisco, Romblon, one in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, and 43 are still being verified by the DILG.

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STATEMENT | NUJP condemns Duterte’s red-tagging of journalists

File photo of NPA guerillas operating in Surigao del Sur on the move along the San Miguel and Marihatag border. INTERAKSYON FILE PHOTO
MANILA – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has taken President Duterte to task for his recent remarks tagging certain journalists as communist rebels.

In a statement issued by its acting chair Atty. Jo Clemente, and Secretary-General Dabet Panelo, the NUJP warned of the dangers that the President’s reckless statements may visit on journalists doing their tasks of covering various groups and sectors in the countryside, including rebels and left-leaning personalities.

The risk becomes heightened by the fact that the President has recently declared the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines “terrorists,” thus providing State forces more leeway in cracking down on suspected CPP-NPA members.

BELOW IS THE NUJP STATEMENT:

President Duterte’s sweeping and, as has often been the case, unsubstantiated claim that some journalists are members or maintain links with communist rebels is a potential death warrant against colleagues.

In an interview with a radio station on December 19, President Duterte claimed that some journalists are members of the Left.

According to the official transcript:

“I do not want to add more strain to what people are now suffering. ‘Yung kata****** ng NPA. Sinong NPA dito? Halika nga.

“Tapos pagtalikod mo, marami. Sige na, sige na. Walang hiyaan. Huwag kayo mahiya. Sino? T*** i*** ang ni sino sa inyo walang kamay ni isa. May alam ako mga journalists na Left talaga. O baka nagkadre doon sa Cordillera.”

We note that there is nothing wrong and even necessary to have links with all sectors, groups and personalities in and out of government, including the NPA, as news sources.

Apologists may again try to make light of Mr. Duterte’s latest drivel, but in a country that remains one of the deadliest in the world for journalists, there is cause to worry about the consequences of this irresponsible claim from the highest elected official of the land.

Specifically, Duterte’s claim directly endangers our colleagues who work in the Cordillera region but does the same for those elsewhere in the country.

At best, it is bound to cast a chilling effect on journalists who intend to cover the communist rebels in continuing efforts to better explain the roots and directions of the close to half-a-century old civil strife, at worst it would embolden those, including state agents, who seek to silence us by giving them the convenient cover of counterinsurgency.

With this penchant for such wild and dangerous claims added to his well-known aversion to those who do not agree with him, we fear it will not be long until Duterte directly targets the critical media in his government’s efforts to stamp out dissent.

We call on the independent Philippine media and all Filipinos who cherish our rights and freedoms to stand together in common cause and oppose all attempts to silence us.

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DOUBLE JEOPARDY | Marawi folk displaced by bullets forced to flee from nature’s wrath in wake of Vinta

People help to rescue flood victims in Lanao del Norte, Philippines, December 22, 2017 in this image taken from video footage obtained from social media. Aclimah Cabugatan Disumala/via REUTERS
MANILA – It was hard enough leaving their homes in a rush months ago, to escape the insane war spawned by the ISIS-inspired homegrown terrorists Maute Group. To have to leave anew their temporary relocation sites, as Tropical Storm ‘Vinta’ put the latter in peril, caused Marawi residents renewed anxiety days before Christmas.

As ‘Vinta’ continued to affect several regions in the southern part of the Philippines, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units temporarily transferred internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the Marawi siege in school buildings in Lanao del Norte.

The latest report from the DSWD Field Office (FO) X said that 99 IDPs from Balono Evacuation Center were transferred to Baloi Central School due to damage caused by the strong winds of ‘Vinta’ to the tents of the IDPs.

In Momongan Learning Center, 35 IDPs were transferred to Pacalundo Elementary School due to flooding, while families staying in tents at Abdulhamid Evacuation Center were transferred to the Abdulhamid Madrasah for safety.

Meanwhile in Pantar, Lanao del Norte, IDPs staying in three damaged tents were immediately secured inside the multi-purpose hall within Pantar Tent City.

Non-food items like malongs, mats and laminated sacks were also distributed to the IDPs.

As of the latest report from the DSWD Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DReAMB), there are 70,454 families or 320,180 persons affected in 569 barangays in Regions MMAROPA, VII, IX, X, XI, XII, ARMM and CARAGA, of which, 13,927 families or 59,851 persons are currently staying inside 213 evacuation centers in the said regions.

The Department has extended assistance worth P4,989,110.00 while P647,467.00 were provided by concerned LGUs.

“Disaster Response Assistance and Management Units of the DSWD in the affected areas are continuously monitoring the situation on the grounds with their local government counterparts,” said DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco.

The DSWD OIC also encourages the public to volunteer to repack relief goods at the National Resource Operations Center (NROC), he added.

“We are now calling for public assistance to help in the repacking of relief goods for immediate replenishment of goods to be distributed to locals affected by Tropical Depression ‘Urduja’, Tropical Storm ‘Vinta, and the Marawi siege,” Leyco said.

UN READY TO HELP

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General’s office issued a statement expressing sadness over the loss of life and devastation caused by Tropical Storm Tembin (known locally as “Vinta”) in Mindanao. The UN statement noted least 75 people have lost their lives, with dozens more missing, though a Reuters report earlier put the number past 100.

“Thousands of people have been displaced. The storm has damaged homes and infrastructure, and landslides remain a threat. The Secretary-General extends his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a speedy recovery,” said the statement, issued through the office’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who was in Manila just last month for the 50th ASEAN Summit and Related Events, “salutes the efforts of the national rescue and recovery teams as well as volunteers who are operating under difficult conditions,” added the statement.

It noted that “the United Nations stands ready to support the local and national authorities, in addition to the support already being provided by humanitarian partners.”

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DOJ tells Immigration to place PNoy, 8 others on lookout bulletin

Former President Benigno Aquino III in a huddle with former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad during the Senate hearing on Dengvaxia. Photo by Geremy Pintolo, Philippine Star.
MANILA – The Department of Justice has ordered the Bureau of Immigration to place former President Benigno Aquino III and eight others, including three of his Cabinet members, on an immigration lookout bulletin order in case any of them attempt to leave the country while the charges arising from the Dengvaxia controversy are being heard in various forums.

Besides Aquino, listed in the order by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to the BI were Secretaries Janette Garin of Health and Florencio Abad of Budget, his then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and several private sector executives: Ruby Dizo, Carlito Realuyo, Guillaume Leroy, Thomas Triomphe and Oliver Brandicourt.

The controversy arose from the Aquino administration’s rushed decision to undertake in early 2016 the mass inoculation of schoolchildren aged 9 and above with the dengue vaccine manufactured by French pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur.

Ongoing investigations in the Senate and the House of Representatives have surfaced information that the Aquino Cabinet moved to find the P3.5-billion funding for the program, just before yearend of 2015 — or just a few months before the May 2016 elections — even though it was not provided for in the General Appropriations Act of 2015. Aquino had said at a Senate hearing he made the decision in light of alarming reports of dengue incidence in the country.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told Immigration chief Jaime Lorente to direct all immigration officers in all airports and seaports to be on the lookout/alert should any of the nine persons pass through immigration counterrs, and alert the DOJ right away.

They were told to coordinate right away with the NBI, which was recently directed to conduct the official investigation into the Dengvaxia mess, which raised widespread concern among parents of vaccinated children, following Sanofi’s November 29 advisory revealing that further assessment showed the vaccine was effective in preventing repeat infections but could trigger “severe” dengue among those who never had infections prior to being injected.

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Davao City cancels Christmas, New Year feasts to condole with fire, flood victims

EMPLOYEES TRAPPED? Authorities are verifying reports that at least 10 employees of NCCC Mall of Davao are still inside as fire rages on Saturday, December 23, 2017. Photo by Mick Basa/Rappler 

 
 
 
 
 
 

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Sunday, December 24, announced that the city government would cancel the Christmas feasts it had organized, saying recent tragic events made merrymaking inappropriate.

In a press conference, the mayor also said she had asked the city council to pass a resolution declaring Davao City under a state of calamity.

 

A body was recovered on Sunday morning from NCCC Mall of Davao, where a fire broke out Saturday morning and 37 persons had been trapped and are now feared to be dead. Authorities earlier said there is “zero” chance for the victims' survival

The mayor’s father, President Rodrigo Duterte, met with families of those who perished in the Satruday fire. He was seen cryingwith and patting the backs of the relatives of the victims.

     

DAVAO FLOODING. Homes in a barangay in Davao City are submerged in flood waters on Friday night, December 22, 2017. Photo by Mick Basa 

Before the tragedy, on Friday, thousands of residents were affected by floods, after Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) made a landfall in the neighboring province of Davao Oriental and passed through the rest of the Davao Region

Over 18,603 families in 25 barangays here have been affected by flooding, the mayor said on Sunday.

Among the holiday-related events called off were the Pasko Fiesta, a month-long celebration of Christmas in the city, and the New Year Eve's Torotot Festival, where residents gather to blow horns, as the city prohibits welcoming the New Year with fireworks.

“This is not the time for merrymaking,” Mayor Carpio told reporters.

On Christmas Day local legislators will conduct a special session to decide whether Carpio will be given authority to use Davao City’s remaining funds for disasters.

“I requested the city council to use the full amount of the remaining disaster fund,” she told reporters.

She earlier asked the city councilors to approve her proposals to send financial aid to several towns in the Visayas and Mindanao, which were also hit by calamities.

The mayor also called on the public to “avoid speculations” about the NCCC fire and wait only from official announcement from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

She has told the Lim family, owners of the mall, to refer the families of the missing people to the city government. “We will take care of everything for them,” she said. – Rapper.com

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Robredo asks Filipinos to remember Marawi residents this Christmas

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE. In her Christmas message, Vice President Leni Robredo asks Filipinos to remember residents who were affected by the months-long siege in Marawi City. Screenshot from VP Leni Robredo's Facebook page 

 

MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of the Christmas festivities, Vice President Leni Robredo urged Filipinos to remember residents who were affected by the months-long conflict in Marawi City.

In her Christmas message to Filipinos, Robredo said that "Paskong Pilipino (Filipino Christmas)" is a time for unity, thanksgiving, love, and forgiveness among family, friends, and fellow Filipinos.

 

"Ngunit sa kabila ng kasaganahan at kasiyahan, alalahanin natin ang mga kapatid nating nasa Marawi. Nagsisimula pa lamang silang bumangon mula sa gulo ng hidwaang naganap ngayong taon," the Vice President said in a message sent to the media on Sunday, December 24.

(But amid the prosperity and festivities, let us remember our brothers and sisters in Marawi. They are only beginning to rise from the destruction caused by the war that happened this year.)

Robredo said those who lost their loved ones to the war, as well as those who are still recovering from injuries may find it difficult to face this year's Christmas.

"Ngunit sa pagkakaisa, maiibsan ang lungkot na dala nito. Ang Kapaskuhan ay alay natin sa Batang Sanggol sa sabsaban, na siyang pumiling ipanganak kasama ang mga mahihirap. Katulad Niya, sa pagsisilbi rin natin mararamdaman ang tunay na saya ng pagdiriwang ng Pasko," she said.

(But being united could help relieve the sadness that they have at this time. Christmas is about the Baby in the Manger, who chose to be born among the poor. Like Him, it is through service that we will feel the true joy of celebrating Christmas.)

"Muli, isang mapagpalang Pasko sa ating lahat (Again, a blessed Christmas to us all)!" Robredo added.

The almost 5-month Marawi siege left more than 1,000 people dead and displaced about 600,000 residents.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared the liberation of Marawi City in October, also dedicated his Christmas message to the troops who have lost their lives fighting for Marawi, and the residents who were displaced by the crisis. – Rappler.com

 
 
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Mindanaoans most optimistic about Christmas, until...

FLASH FLOODS. Flash floods and landslides kill at least 18 in the town of Sibuco in Zamboanga Del Norte. Photo from the AFP Western Mindanao Command 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – Mindanaoans were the most optimistic among Filipinos about Christmas 2017, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Up to 84% of the residents in the country's second biggest island expected a "happy" Christmas, even higher than their 78% from 2016. 

 

The survey, however, was conducted in the middle of December – from the 8th to the 16th – and tragedies had since struck the island.The death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) that ravaged Mindanao on Friday, December 22, has topped 200

Flash floods and landslides wiped out communities, especially in Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte.

Retrieval operations continued on Christmas eve. 

In Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, up to 37 are feared dead from a fire that engulfed a mall two days before Christmas. 

Duterte himself broke down in tears when he himself visited the site to deliver the tragic news to the relatives of workers trapped inside the mall that the possibility of finding the victims alive was "zero." (READ: Davao City cancels Christmas, New Year feasts to condole with fire, flood victims)

Congress also approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao midway through the survey, which also showed that majority of Mindanao residents disapproved the extension

Mindanaoans are traditionally the most optimistic about Christmas, according to SWS. Nationwide, 77% of Filipinos said they expected a happy Christmas 2017. 

Majority in Metro Manila (69%), Balance Luzon (75%), and the Visayas (80%) also expected a happy Christmas 2017.

Pollsters asked respondents to complete the sentence: "Sa pangkalahatan, masasabi po ba ninyo na ang inyong Pasko ngayong taon ay magiging _______?" (On the whole, would you say that your Christmas this year will be ________?)

They chose from the answers masaya (happy), malungkot (sad)and hindi masaya at hindi rin malungkot (not happy but not sad either) Rappler.com

 
 
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Amid Christmas disasters, EU tells PH, 'We're ready to help'

'LONGSTANDING FRIEND.' EU Ambassador Franz Jessen says on Christmas Eve that the European Union is ready to help the Philippines. AFP file photo 

 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – Amid a string of disasters in the Philippines during the Christmas season, the European Union condoled with Filipinos and said they are ready to come to the country's aid.

"The EU is a longstanding friend of the Philippine people and stands ready to assist during this difficult time," said EU Ambassador Franz Jessen in a statement posted on EU Philippines' Facebook page on Christmas Eve.

 

Jessen said EU's help can come in the form of "humanitarian assistance or by use of our development fund."Jessen extended his "heartfelt condolenses" to victims of disasters that happened in the last few days, including the storms Vinta and Urduja that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands, the fire at the NCCC Mall in Davao City where 37 are believed to have died, and the sinking of a vessel off Quezon province that killed at least 6. 

Below is his full message: 

Mahal kong mambabasa,

It was with great sadness that I, during the past week, saw the devastation and loss of lives caused by Vinta, Urduja, the fire at the NCCC in Davao and the sinking of the Quezon ferry. The sadness is felt even more deeply as the tragedies all took place at a time where families were preparing to join each other to celebrate Christmas - a time of traditional peace and joy.

On behalf of the EU Delegation I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones or have suffered in other ways during these calamities.

The EU is longstanding friend of the Philippine people and stands ready to assist during this difficult time: by humanitarian assistance or by use of our development funds, that can help to create an even more resilient country.

Back in May, the Philippines said it would no longer accept new EU grants, pegged at around 250 million euros or P13.85 billion.

Months later, in October, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the government would reject all international aid that wouldcome with "conditions." 

This came after President Rodrigo Duterte, angered by criticism by EU officials of his war against drugs, dared both the EU and United States to withdraw their aid from the Philippines, emphasizing that his country would not "beg" for the assistance. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

 
 
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PH Red Cross staff, volunteers to spend Christmas with victims of Urduja, Vinta

ALWAYS THERE. Philippine Red Cross staff and volunteers assist in the evacuation of families affected by Tropical Storm Vinta in Cagayan de Oro. Photo by PRC 

 
 
 
 
 
 

MANILA, Philippines – Just before Christmas, tropical storms Urduja (Kai-Tak) and Vinta (Tembin) devastated various parts of the country, displacing tens of thousands in Visayas and Mindanao and leaving behind billions of pesos worth of damaged properties and agriculture products.

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said its staff and volunteers will continue to work double time – even if it means not spending Christmas with their families – to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the two tropical storms. (READ: 31 dead, 49 missing due to Urduja)

 

PRC chairman Richard Gordon said staff and volunteers from their national headquarters and from 31 chapters in Mindanao are currently responding to and closely monitoring all affected provinces.  

"When the world no longer watches, the Philippine Red Cross stays to do what must be done. We are one in helping the most vulnerable, banking on our fundamental principle of humanity," Gordon said.

Urduja response

PRC teams were among the first on the ground to assess and monitor the situation in the aftermath of Urduja.

PRC mobilized 82 staff and 1,955 volunteers from its 24 chapters in the Visayas to help those affected by the tropical storm, which made 6 landfalls in the country

About 240 families already received sleeping kits, which include blankets, towels, and plastic mats, and about 651 families received food items. About 8,185 individuals also received hot meals, while 169 individuals were given psychosocial support.

PRC was also among the first to access Biliran province, one of the areas hardest hit by Urduja.

The PRC set up a 5,000-liter water bladder at the Biliran Provincial Hospital to provide water regularly to patients and nearby residents. The organization also provided anti-tetanus vaccines to injured individuals. (READ: Agriculture damage from Urduja reaches P1 billion)

Vinta response

The PRC also provided hot meals to 1,880 individuals affected by Vinta. About 856 individuals were also given psychosocial support.

PRC volunteers were also the first to respond when a ceiling of the Butuan City Jail collapsed during the height of Vinta on Friday, December 22. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Destroyed roads, bridges in Mindanao due to Vinta)

Meanwhile, prepositioned non-food items (for 1,000 families) from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are ready for distribution at the Philippine Red Cross Chapter in Cagayan de Oro. (READ: Death toll from Tropical Storm Vinta breaches 200)

The PRC has 103 chapters nationwide, with two million volunteers ready to provide humanitarian assistance especially to the most vulnerable.

Aside from disaster response, PRC's other services include health care, blood donation, and promotion of volunteerism values among the youth. – Rappler.com

If you want to help those affected by Vinta or if you have reports about their humanitarian needs like temporary shelter, relief goods, water, and hygiene kits, post them on the Agos map, text to 2929 (Smart and Sun), or tag MovePH on Twitter or Facebook. You may also link up with other organizations that called for donations.

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