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.”