Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año stressed on Thursday, Nov. 12, the need to prioritize the rescue of stranded residents in the heavily submerged areas of Metro Manila and nearby localities. Some had sought refuge on the roofs of their residences pleading for help as typhoon “Ulysses’’ wreaked havoc.
In a news briefing, Año said that the government’s assets from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will be deployed in the critical areas under the supervision of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTFNCR) with the priority of saving lives above anything else.
“Pinakatinamaan ng husto kung dito sa Greater Manila area, Montalban, San Mateo, Cainta at ang pinaka malaking baha dito ay sa Marikina (The hardest hit areas in the Greater Manila area are Montalban, San Mateo, Cainta, and there has been the most flooding in Marikina),’’ Año said.
To those who are stranded, Año appealed for patience while assuring that government assistance is on the way.
“Hindi tayo titigil hanggang ma-rescue kayo. Nandito rin ang [Department of Social Welfare and Development] at magpapadala rin sila ng food packs and relief goods sa affected areas,’’ he added.
(We will not stop until all of you are rescued. The DSWD is on hand to provide food packs and relief goods in the affected areas.)
At the height of the onslaught of typhoon “Ulysses,” Año explained that there was a need to cut electricity services due to flooding and the assault of strong winds.
He asked for public understanding as he confirmed that he has conferred with the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) for the gradual restoration of electricity by circuits.
Within the day, Año said, the public may expect power to be restored in some areas.
Before the weather disturbance, Año said the government had conducted preventive evacuations, citing that rescue teams have saved numerous lives.
He added that “Ulysses’’ drew similarities with typhoon “Ondoy,” in the sense that the heavy rains simultaneously filled up the dams that made it necessary to open their floodgates.
“Ang tinamaan talaga ‘yung along the riverlines of Pasig and Marikina rivers. Nandoon ‘yung percentage ng rescue natin, lalo na sa Provident Village in Marikina,’’ Año explained.
(The hardest hit were the riverlines of Pasig and Marikina. A high percentage of our rescue teams are in those areas, particularly at Provident Village in Marikina.)
Año noted, however, that “Ulysses’’ is less worse than “Ondoy,” stressing that the latter severely submerged and battered the whole of Metro Manila including low-lying areas along rivers.
“Pero ngayon, within the river ang problema natin (But now, our problem is along the river),’’ he said.
Even with the intense rescue operations due to the typhoon, Año emphasized the need to maintain the minimum health standards in evacuation centers, as the fight against COVID-19 is far from over.
“We need health and safety protocol officers, and we have to maintain distancing. Talagang tiyaga lang tayo dito kasi hindi natin puwedeng pabayaan ang transmission kahit meron tayo disaster (We really need to be patient since we cannot be complacent in dealing with the transmission of COVID-19 even if we are faced with disasters),’’ Año remarked.
The DILG chief assured that COVID-positive patients will be transferred to maximize the use of the evacuation centers.