January 19, 2018, 4:14 am
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Despite 42 Urduja deaths reported, gov’t still has no tally

THE PNP in the Eastern Visayas, which was hardest hit by “Urduja” over the weekend, yesterday said it has recorded 42 deaths in the region alone, mostly in the island province of Biliran.

But the Camp Aguinaldo-based National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council still has no official casualty figures. It said it was still verifying 26 reported deaths in the Eastern Visayas, and making sure its tally is accurate.

“We have to be sure of the identity, especially their cause of death if they are related to the disaster,” said NDRRMC spokeswoman Romina Marasigan. “Why are we having this kind of process? Remember, a fatality or injured because of a disaster is entitled to financial assistance from government. So we have to be sure that these are related to the disaster.” 

Beneficiaries of the fatalities and the injured stand to receive P10,000 and P5,000, respectively, in assistance from the government, through the NDRRMC, she said.

“There could be more, that’s possible,” said Marasigan when asked if the 26 deaths reported to the NDRRMC may increase. 

President Duterte visited Biliran and promised to help rebuild areas damaged by Urduja, starting with the repair of two major bridges to hasten the delivery of relief packs and provide access to the stranded communities in the province.

The President conducted an aerial inspection of the affected areas and met with town mayors to find out what they need.

He also condemned an attack of the communist New People’s Army on soldiers conducting relief and rescue missions in Samar on Saturday. He said it is the reason he is no longer talking peace with the communists.

Urduja, now a tropical depression, slightly weakened after it made landfall in Palawan yesterday. It is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility today.

Figures from the PNP Eastern Visayas showed 28 fatalities in Biliran, with 25 from landslides and the three others from drowning.

Police said six died in Leyte, three in Eastern Samar, two in Samar, two in Ormoc City, and one in Tacloban City. The cause of their death were also due to landslides and drowning.

It said 33 are still missing, 26 of them are from Biliran.

Marasigan said the NDRRMC is verifying the deaths of 26 deaths in the Eastern Visayas -- 18 in Biliran, five in Leyte, two in Samar, and one in Eastern Samar.

The confirmation, she said, is being done by the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health, which are member-agencies of the NDRRMC.

Marasigan said 46 are reported missing, mostly victims of landslides.

“When you say for confirmation, we are determining their cause of death, getting their death certificates,” she said.

Police reports said there are four other Urduja-related deaths outside Eastern Visayas -- two in Romblon due to landslide, one in Palanas town in Masbate due to drowning, and one in Labo town in Camarines Norte.

The NDRRMC, in a situation report, said Urduja has affected 56,908 families or 248,790 persons in the Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and Caraga regions. Of the number, 25,645 families or 112,637 persons are staying inside 302 evacuation centers.

It also said 263 areas in the Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions were flooded. Marasigan said flooding in most of these areas have already subsided, a positive development for workers giving assistance to the victims.

PROJECTS

Duterte urged the municipal mayors to submit a list of the projects that they would need for their   municipalities, adding that there would be no politics in the approval or implementation of projects.

He said his government would try to find funds to finance the projects but priority would be given to repair of bridges that ensure access and connects the island to other areas.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at least 25,000 food packs – 15,000 coming from Cebu and 10,000 from Tacloban, were brought to Biliran yesterday by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Prior to the arrival of the President, his Cabinet men started assessment of the damage. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and Angela Lopez de Leon
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