Amid dwindling food, water, medicine, and other supplies in areas hit by Typhoon Odette, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded concerned agencies and local officials to ensure that evacuees’ medical needs are attended to.
Duterte issued the directive during a recent command conference with local officials and military officials at the General Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
The meeting was held Thursday but the video recording was aired on Saturday.
“’Evacuation centers are risky because people there can contaminate each other. You only need one cough — coughing person there — to spread because you crowd people and congregate them in one place,” he said partly in Filipino.
He emphasized the need to ensure that evacuees keep their distance from each other amid the threat of new and more transmissible variants of Covid-19.
“One of my concerns is health. They’re always there. Make sure to make rounds in evacuation areas so that they can be attended to with their medical needs,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte also tapped the military and police to handle the distribution of financial aid and other forms of assistance to typhoon-stricken communities.
Assigning the task to the police and military does not mean he distrusts the local government.
“Do not think that I am not — I do not trust the local officials. But in times of disorder, there should be even in the matter of escorting trucks bringing aid, there is chaos. So the police must be there and the military… to see to it that the intention and the expectations of government are realized,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte admitted that he did not expect the typhoon would be as strong as predicted by the state weather bureau.
“We did not expect the typhoon to be that ferocious. We thought that it’s just another typhoon. We never expected that it would be a huge thing that would affect the country, especially — a problem during Christmas time. There are people suffering,” he said partly in Filipino.
He expressed hope that much-needed assistance “could reach everybody” at the soonest possible time.
Duterte earlier assured victims that the government has raised P10 billion for typhoon response.
Acting Budget secretary Tina Rose Canda explained that of the amount Duterte promised as typhoon aid, P6 billion would come from the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022.
The national budget for next year is only awaiting Duterte’s signature.