Monday, December 10, 2012

Majority of Dabawenyos prepared for disaster-survey

DAVAO CITY Dec. 10 (PIA)- More than half of Davao City residents believe they can brace themselves against typhoons. This was the result of a survey conducted by the University of Mindanao’s Institute of Public Opinion which ran from  November 20-28.

Dr. Linda Arquiza, director of the IPO  said that the survey involved around 1,400 respondents from the city’s 162 barangays using a 3% margin of error. In the survey about 52 out of 100 Dabawenyos believe that they are ready for a storm, 19/100 would be frantic amidst the horrendous effect while 30/100 needed a little help as they consider themselves as somewhat ready.

Ironically, typhoon Pablo would hit Davao City along with nearby provinces a week after the completion of the survey.

However the residents reveal that the occurrence of earthquake is one disaster they feel they are least ready for. Only 44 out of 100 respondents believe they are prepared in case a strong quake would rock the city while 24/100 said they are not ready and 32/100 consider themselves as somewhat prepared.

According to Arquiza, it appeared from the survey that Davao City is readying itself for a typhoon and its accompanying strong winds and consequential floods and this could be impressed as a direct response to climate-change related disasters and not for earthquakes.

Another result of the survey is the people’s trust in the City Government towards it capability to respond quickly towards disaster of which 83% of the respondents are certain that the City could dispatch an immediate and effective first responders.

Also 82% believe that the Davao City have the vehicles ready for use during emergencies (82%) which could reduce if not zero out casualties during disaster of any kind. They also believe that the City has an emergency fund which could be utilized for relief operations and eventual rehabilitation and reconstruction of damage homes and communities.

Dabawenyos also have faith in their local leaders capacity to handle disasters.  Ratings were significantly high ranging from 72% to a high of 92.24%.  The Mayor has a high readiness rating of 92.24% followed by the Vice Mayor (91.15%), the barangay captain (83.87%), police (83.11%), fire department (82.12%) barangay councilman (72. 26%).

When disaster strikes, the survey revealed that Dabawenyos expect their barangay captain as their first responders with a rating of 37.18% followed by the Mayor (23.27%) and the 911 Emergency Response (18.51%).

According to Arquiza, the finding is an important information useful for disaster preparedness to post-disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts. To successfully conduct rescue, rehab and reconstruction efforts the barangay captain must be taken into the layers of communication and into the set-up of coordination.

On the whole about 50% of the people are self-assured about their personal preparedness for disasters and calamities however they have high trust in the City Government’s capacity for quick response and they see that the government is ready with the needed resources.

Arquiza said that based on the survey it can be gleamed that the Davao City with its Public Safety Unit, support of the local government and the resources for rehabilitation and reconstruction is perceived as a disaster-ready city. (PIA/RG Alama)

Logging aggravated flashfloods-DENR-XI

DAVAO CITY, Dec  10 (PIA) A top officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Davao Region cited the depletion of the forest cover which aggravated the occurrence of flash flood in New Bataan, Compostela Valley and the towns of Cateel, Baganga, and Boston, Davao Oriental amid the onslaught of typhoon Pablo Tuesday.

Josilyn Marcus Fragada, director of the DENR XI said the devastation created by the storm to many communities only indicates the long practice of illegal logging activities in the region, which the current administration tried to arrest in the past two years with the implementation of Executive Order 23 banning the logging activities in Mindanao.

He also observed that the typhoons nowadays are stronger compared to the storms in the past, an offshoot of the climate change, prompting their office to encourage residents to stop cutting and plant more trees.

“We have to plant more trees in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental areas,” Fragada pointed out. 

He also attributed to the strong wind and rainfall brought about by the storm to the uprooting of many trees which destroyed many bridges during the flashflood.
Fragada  said there were also cut logs before which were drifted during the flash flood.
“We coordinated with the local governments for the retrieval of previously cut logs.  It so happened that they were carried downstream during the typhoon,” he said.
Fragada said they are still waiting more reports from the field since many areas have not yet been reached by authorities.
Engr. Edilberto Arreza, director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau  XI welcomed the information citing negative casualty in the mining areas of the region.

He said even in small-scale mining areas, there were no casualties during and after the storm.

Arreza said six-shanties were reported to have been hit by a landslide in Pantukan, but there were no casualties because of the pre-emptive evacuation of miners.

“I am glad that all our warnings reached the miners who immediately conducted pre-emptive evacuation,” he said.

Arreza clarified that there agency is still investigating if  mining operation aggravated the occurrence of mudflow and flashflood .

He said that as far as their agency is concerned, Barangay Andap is a watershed area, where exploiting of natural resources like cutting of trees and mining activities are prohibited.

Arreza said they are also verifying the report that a natural catch basin in the highlands of Barangay Andap gave way causing massive destruction downstream.

“Andap still have plenty of trees which might have fallen and created a natural dam which gave way amid the storm.  We are still verifying it.  The area  has two active water tributaries,” he said.  (PIA XI-Joey Sem G. Dalumpines)

U.S. to provide plastic sheets for 20-T homeless families in DavOr, ComVal

DAVAO CITY Dec. 10 (PIA)-The United States is set to provide plastic sheeting for the homeless victims of Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

“This evening a 747 (plane will arrive) loaded with plastic sheeting to provide shelter to those who have lost their homes in the typhoon,” United States Charge’ d’Affaires Brian L. Goldbeck said during a press conference at the old Davao Airport in Lanang Monday.

Goldbeck said the plastic sheeting will provide “shelters for up to 20 thousand people” in the areas affected by the typhoon which made a landfall in Baganga, Davao Oriental on December 4.

As of Monday, the Office of Civil Defense XI (OCD) reported that the number of evacuees has now reached 43,112 families or 198,287 persons in the three cities and 27 towns in Region XI.

He said the US is working closely with the Philippine government “to tailor our assistance to what the Philippines needs.” He said the United States Agency for International Development Office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) initially provided $100,000  to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for the provision of emergency relief commodities and requirements for hygiene, water and sanitation.

“But when Washington recognized that the disaster is much more devastating than what was initially thought of, it sent an additional $3M  to address the humanitarian needs of the affected residents,” he said.

Goldbeck said they continue to monitor the impact of the disaster to the residents of the affected areas to facilitate the recovery process. He said the US military has coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide transportation support for the relief efforts. He mentioned two C130 flights last week, three more additional flights yesterday (Dec. 10), and more flights during the week.

He said the US Government has also provided more than $4.1 million for “disaster risk reduction activities in the Philippines” for 2012, on top of the amounts released for the humanitarian needs of the disaster victims in DavOr and COmVal.(LAC)

DSWD Sec raises human trafficking concern in Pablo-torn areas

DAVAO CITY, Dec. 10 (PIA):  Social Welfare Sec. Corazon "Dinky" Soliman Sunday raised concern over  abuse and trafficking that may  happen to women and children displaced due to Typhoon Pablo.

In her meeting yesterday  with representatives and officials of  international humanitarian agencies,  she cited such as part of gender-based concern to be taken account  to  prevent women and children from migrating and eventually ending up as victims of traffickers.

"We'll do information campaign on this, so they will not automatically migrate to some promise of a better life," she said.

"We  are having apprehension that trafficking will increase; we should make sure that people are informed. We assure them that there is going to be a better way," she added referring to vulnerable women and children who have been left alone having lost their family members due to Typhoon Pablo.
Other protection issues that came out during the meeting with Sec. Soliman was the need  for lighting at campsites and evacuation centers in towns which are still in the  dark due to still damaged power lines.

Meanwhile, Josephine L. Quianzon of the Davao Medical School Foundation (DMSF), in the same meeting pointed out that  water-sanitation-hygeine  assistance should also be given attention because evacuation centers   were found littered with plastic bottles.

Providing open spaces for children and women also came out among other protection concerns identified during Soliman’s meeting with humanitarian groups among which were the International Labor Organizations (ILO),  Handicap International,  World Food Programme,  Plan International,  Lutheran World Relief,  World Vision,  International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Save the Children, Action Against Hunger/ACF International, International Organizations for Migrants.

Present United Nations humanitarian organizations dealing on child protection were UNICEF, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

DSWD is the lead agency of the Child Protection Working Group that works in coordination with the Camp/IDP Management, Emergency Shelter, Protection Cluster  that DSWD  is also taking the lead “to address the impacts of emergencies (both human induced and natural disasters) in the Philippines on child protection.”  (PIA XI/Jeanevive Duron-Abangan)

DSWD setting up relief hubs to fast-track distribution

DAVAO  CITY.  Dec. 10 (PIA):  Relief hubs  will be established to fast-track distribution of relief goods to Typhoon Pablo displaced families and individuals, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said over the  weekend.

In a press interview Sunday, during her meeting with humanitarian agencies, Soliman said outside of Davao City, Nabunturan will serve the badly hit areas in Compostela Valley and Trento (Agusan del Sur) will cater the typhoon-struck areas in the provinces of Agusan del Sur and the isolated towns of Boston, Cateel and Baganga of Davao Oriental.

Service areas of  the Nabunturan hub are the typhoon-affected towns of New Bataan, Monkayo, Compostela, Montevista, Laak and Mabini. Aside from serving Davao Oriental areas,  the Trento hub will also be serving Agusan del Sur  towns of Veruela, Bunawan, Santa Josefa and Loreto.

Donor agencies can directly go to typhoon-affected areas but Soliman directed them to coordinate with  the relief hub manned by partners from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO)  and  social welfare and development (SWAD) team leader.

Soliman viewed such coordination as necessary so donor agencies will be directed to areas which are still  needing help, “so no one would be left out of food”, and to  ensure equitable access to relief assistance.

She assured that chosen relief hub are sites  where internet-based communication is open and that  lines of telecommunication companies  are working.

On the other hand,  Soliman welcomed suggestion to do barangay-based distribution of relief goods but “this has to be managed by the local government units.”  “We will only monitor it,”  she said.

Having received information that  some members of indigenous communities were still left out of food assistance,  she asked them to come down to  nearest distribution sites at the poblacion area.

 “What we are considering is the accessibility of the area,”  she said referring to far-flung communities  where IPs were still staying, after typhoon Pablo’s devastating visit.

As  of Monday, DSWD 11 extended P10,000 cash assistance to families of 193 casualties and released P11.708 million worth of assistance in kind, with P8.9 million counterparts from local government units and P1.9 from non-government organizations (NGOs). Individual donors reached a total of P48,292.

As of Saturday, DSWD XI monitored 144,506 displaced families with 601,022 individuals.

Relative to relief distribution,  DSWD will be issuing family access cards which displaced families can use in claiming or in asking relief assistance.

DSWD  last Sunday tasked partners Municipal Social Welfare and Development Offices in typhoon-affected towns to start producing the access cards which will be distributed the soonest possible time.

Aside from   food, DSWD is also addressing non-food needs of  typhoon victims such as water-sanitation-hygiene, shelter,  protection, and livelihood. It is also looking into camp management while on the process of building bunk houses.

Acting Regional Director Priscilla N. Razon said P42 million had been downloaded to the regional office of DSWD to fund the construction of bunk houses in seven towns of Boston, Cateel and Baganga in Davao Oriental and in New Bataan, Monkayo, Compostela and Montevista in Compostela Valley.  (PIA XI/ Jeanevive Duron-Abangan)

Foreign aid arrives as gov't. race to save communities hit by Pablo

DAVAO CITY, Dec 10 (PIA) More relief assistance arrived from Indonesia and the United States of America as government raced time to continue the search, rescue and retrieval operation and in sending more help to areas affected by Typhoon Pablo.

The Indonesian National Defense Force handed the relief goods and cash assistance to the government 8:00 am Monday at the Davao International Airport.

The delegation was welcomed by Lt. General Jorge Segovia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Brian Goldbeck, charge de affaires of the American Embassy also gave away 11:00 am Monday, an initial $100,000-worth of water, sanitation and hygiene support and provision of emergency relief at the tarmac of the Old Davao Airport where his delegation was welcomed by Secretary Lualhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority.

Goldbeck assured of more assistance to the affected areas as the US Agency for International Development continues to assess typhoon affected areas not only in Mindanao but also in Visayas.

He said the US Armed Forces has deployed two of its cargo planes from Okinawa, Japan to assist in the delivery of relief goods from Manila to Davao City.

As of 11:00 am Monday, Liza Mazo, director of the Office of Civil Defense XI reported that the death toll reached to 655 with 552 missing and 1,792 injured in the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte.

In her report to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, she said that a total of 43,112 families or 198,287 remain in the evacuation centers.

Mazo said blackout still prevails in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, while service of telecommunication companies are gradually restored in ComVal but nil in many areas in Davao Oriental.

Earlier, the Malaysian Humanitarian Assistance Mission delivered ten tons of food and non-food items Friday night.

The first international assistance to the typhoon stricken areas in Davao Region arrived from Malaysia on-board a C-130 Hercules cargo plane 7:00 pm Friday at the Tactical Operations Group XI Headquarters at the Davao International Airport.

Lt. General Paklauan Razak, head of the Malaysian delegation handed over three six by six truckloads of goods to Undersecretary Benito Ramos, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council at the reception hall of the 3rd Philippine Air Force Division, witnessed by Lt. General Jorge Segovia, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, Liza Mazo, director of the Office of Civil Defense XI, Mila Segovia, assistant regional director for administration of the Department of Social Welfare and Development XI, disaster and consular officers of the Malaysian government and officers of the 10th Infantry Division and Eastern Mindanao Command.

Lt. General Segovia thanked the Malaysian government for the assistance which came at the time when the affected populace needed.

He lauded the Malaysian contingent for initiating the first foreign mission to assist distressed areas in Mindanao since the storm hit the country.

“You came at the right time when we undergo difficult times when many people need help,” Segovia said.

He stressed that only in trying times; the Filipinos tend to know who their real friends are.

Usec Ramos said the gesture of the Malaysian government shows that they are not just our neighbors but our brothers.

He also thanked the Malaysian government for standing pat on international and bilateral agreements on helping a distressed member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, hit by a disaster.

Lt. General Razak said the goods comprise mainly of rice, biscuits, milk powder, blankets and towels.

He said the ten ton-cargo will just be the first shipment of assistance from Malaysia and more good are expected to be sent here until the situation normalizes.

Razak said Malaysia is always ready to help neighboring countries which in need.

Mila Segovia of the DSWD XI said the distribution of the Malaysian assistance will commence this Monday (December 10).

She assured that there is no longer a municipality isolated from government reach.

“Our social workers are already in place in every distress municipality to assist in the distribution of assistance,” Segovia said. (PIA XI- Joey Sem G. Dalumpines)

(Weather Update): PAGASA lifts storm warning signals as 'Pablo' weakens into LPA

Tropical depression "Pablo" further weakened into a low pressure area (LPA) on Sunday afternoon, the state weather bureau said.

Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecaster Bell Masallo said that with the presence of northeast monsoon "Pablo" continued to weaken into LPA.

Masallo said that as of 4 p.m., the LPA was located at 105 kilometers west of Laoag City (18.1°N, 119.4°E).

However, she said that the agency was still monitoring Pablo as it might intensify. But based on the agency's models, Pablo has slim chance of to regaining strength and expected to dissipate.

With this development , all public storm warning signal is lifted, Masallo said.

She added that northern Luzon, with the northeast monsoon, would experience light rains while Metro Manila and the rest of the country would have brief rain showers and thunderstorms. (PNA)

Alcala to ask LBP to give special allocation for Davao banana planters hardest hit by ‘Pablo’

Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has said he will ask the Land Bank of the Philippines to give special allocation specifically to Davao banana planters hardest hit by typhoon "Pablo."

He admitted that the national government is currently facing an enormous problem on how to raise tens of billions of pesos to fund the damage caused by the typhoon in the significant sectors of agriculture/fisheries and infrastructure, particularly in the hardest hit areas of Compostela Valley province and Davao Oriental.

He said the total cost of damage brought about by "Pablo" in agriculture and fisheries in Davao Region alone was estimated at P7.938 billion. Of this amount, the banana sector suffered the most damage at about P5.6 billion.

Alcala was in Davao City on Friday together with 10 other Cabinet members for the briefing on the impact of typhoon "Pablo" and the corresponding rehabilitation before President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The 10 other Cabinet members were Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, who helped the President assessed the extent of the damage in the area.

He said the government could allocate an initial quick response funding of less than P300 million to initially fund rehabilitation operations.

The intervention is necessary to prevent foreign buyers from turning on to other suppliers in view of the non-availability of supply of all crops.

Alcala expressed fears that if this happens, it would not be good for the industry.

At this point in time, however, the official is confident foreign buyers understand the predicament Davao Region is facing in view of the devastating effect of typhoon Pablo.

“Sa ngayon, I know foreign markets can still understand,” he said, adding that for now, no foreign buyers, among them Japan, China, Singapore and Hong Kong, have expressed decision to turn to other suppliers.

On the part of government, it would tap nurseries and tissue laboratories in unaffected areas like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Region 12 and Region 10 for the propagation of planting materials.

Alcala said the government is now pre-positioning the provision of certified seed hybrid for rice and yellow corn. It will also provide planting materials for the banana sector.

For coconut, the major crop in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, will take two years to produce from the time of replanting.

“To give the farmers livelihood while waiting for the yields, government will help farmers engage to inter-cropping, The Philippine Coconut Authority board had already met to discuss the decision to give the board the authority to provide fertilizers for the coconut farmers,” he said.

At the briefing, Alcala reported that about 23,000 hectares of rice lands were destroyed by typhoon Pablo valued at about P133.404 million; 16,582 hectares for corn amounting to P28.825 million; and coconut plantations estimated at 14,879 hectares valued at about P763.509 million.

Alcala informed the President that the DA has readied rice and corn seeds for massive replanting at the devastated rice lands in Davao Region, particularly in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

For fish cages, seaweeds and mariculture, the cost of damage was estimated at P24 million. Infrastructure damage was placed at P938 billion Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said at the briefing that the reported damage in infrastructure in hardest hit two Davao provinces was estimated at P938 billion.

He said the cost of damage incurred “is the biggest” in the region.

He attributed the huge cost of damage to the destroyed long bridge in Davao Oriental.

The biggest problem, he said, is the Palma Gil Bridge in Caraga which is half cut by typhoon Pablo. The other bridge is the Lumao Bridge which, he said, was temporarily passable as of Saturday.

Aside from the bridges, several roads were damaged by the typhoon both in the affected areas in the two provinces.

President Aquino, when asked by a member of the media how much the government would initially allocate, said the government will use the P4-billion calamity fund for rehabilitation.

He said he has also directed the Department of Budget and Management to look for funds in the amount of P8 billion to augment the calamity fund.

The President noted that seven spans of the Palma Gil Bridge in Caraga were totally damaged.

He said as per report of the DPWH, though it would be passable by Thursday next week, it will take more days to finish the entire seven spans.

Singson said DPWH has already deployed 66 units of heavy equipment in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley for the infra rehabilitation.

At least 766 personnel are also deployed to the affected areas and DPWH is currently using quick response fund in the rehabilitation operations, he added. (PNA)