State of calamity in Luzon pushed

Published November 16, 2020, 3:44 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Rescue troops, equipment sent to ‘Ulysses’-hit areas

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recommended to President Duterte on Monday the declaration of a state of calamity in the entire Luzon due to widespread damage brought by typhoons “Quinta” and “Ulysses,” and Super-typhoon “Rolly.”

The decision to recommend a state of calamity in Luzon was agreed upon by the Council in a virtual emergency meeting, led by NDRRMC chairman and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

This handout aerial photo taken and received on November 14, 2020 from the Philippine Coast Guard shows submerged houses in Cagayan province, north of Manila, on November 14, 2020, days after Typhoon Vamco hit parts of the country bringing heavy rain and flooding. (Photo by Handout / Philippine Coast Guard / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“It was approved during the meeting the recommendation for President Rodrigo Duterte to place under state of calamity the entire Luzon to address the impacts of the latest typhoons that hit the country,” said NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad.

Typhoon Quinta (international name: Molave) came ashore on October 25 and left 27 people dead, 40 injured, and four missing.

It also dealt massive damage to agriculture and infrastructure which was placed at ₱1.56 billion and ₱2.66 billion, respectively.

Meanwhile, Super-typhoon Rolly, the world’s most powerful cyclone this year so far, made landfall over Catanduanes on October 31 and pummeled Bicol Region and parts of Visayas until it exited the Philippine area of responsibility on November 3.

Twenty-six persons were reported killed, 399 were hurt, and six others were missing due to Rolly. It also left ₱12.9-billion infrastructure damage and ₱5-billion agricultural damages.

Immediately after Rolly left, two typhoons entered the PAR, “Siony” and “Tonyo” but they did not do significant damage, according to disaster risk management officials.

But the incessant rains brought by the successive typhoons saturated the soil in major parts of Luzon, which made Typhoon Ulysses equally devastating as Quinta and Rolly.

Ulysses made its first landfall in Catanduanes on November 11. So far, officials said at least 67 persons were killed while 13 others were missing.

It dealt ₱2.1 billion and ₱483 million damages in agriculture and infrastructure, respectively.

Meanwhile, Jalad said Lorenzana raised various concerns to the Council’s member agencies to improve their response mechanisms in times of disasters. Accordingly, Lorenzana instructed the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to revisit its historical data to strengthen their warning mechanisms before a typhoon hits the country.

The Council also discussed the provi – sion of assistance to the affected farmers and fisher folk, road clearing operations, shelter requirements, and other recovery interventions, Jalad said.

Jalad added that a technical working group (TWG) of the joint Prevention, Mitigation, and Preparedness clusters of the NDRRMC will be convened to assess the current dam management around the country in the wake of the release of excess water in Magat Dam that contributed to massive flooding in Cagayan and other nearby provinces in Cagayan Valley (Region 2).

Scores were killed while thousands of families were affected by the inundation in the region.

Military deploys assets

As this developed, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployed additional troops and assets to conduct search, rescue, and retrieval (SRR) and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon after it was battered by Ulysses.

General Gilbert Gapay, AFP Chief, said a total of 265,339 individuals were already saved in typhoon-affected areas in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, and Metro Manila through continuous operations over the weekend.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) sustained its rescue and relief operations, while the Philippine Navy deployed two amphibious trucks with two six-man rescue teams aboard to respond to 105 distress calls in flooded areas in Navotas City, said Lieutenant Commander Christina Roxas, acting director of the naval public affairs office.

The Philippine Army’s (PA) 54th Infantry Battallion carried out HADR missions to aid landslide victims in municipalities of Asipulo and Tinoc in Ifugao.

Army’s 1st and 80th Infantry Battalions also dispatched response teams to General Nakar, Quezon province.

Damage to agriculture

The combined damage and losses that the country’s agriculture sector incurred in the span of three weeks due to Ulysses, Quinta, and Rolly already reached nearly ₱11 billion, with more than a hundred thousand of farmers and fishermen affected.

A data from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) showed that as of Monday, the total damage and losses that the farm sector incurred due to Ulysses now stood at ₱2.53 billion.

As of Friday, the combined amount of damage and losses that the farm sector incurred from Quinta and Rolly already stood at ₱8.46 billion, with as many as 106,540 farmers and fisherfolk affected.

Power restoration in Cagayan

Meanwhile, electricity should be back immediately once flooding subsides in affected areas in the province of Cagayan, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

In a briefing with President Duterte in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, on Sunday, Cusi said power connection is expected to be restored in two days as soon as they complete the inspection and the water subsides in the affected areas. (With reports from Madelaine B. Miraflor and PNA)