Philippines under state of national calamity

Posted at 12/08/12 11:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday declared a state of national calamity after typhoon Pablo devastated provinces in southern Philippines, destroyed various infrastructure and took hundreds of lives.

"[T]he declaration of a State of National Calamity will hasten the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance," read Proclamation No. 522, signed December 7 by the President.

This means a speedy release of calamity funds may be expected to better aid Filipinos affected by the typhoon.

Moreover, the declaration is meant to "effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities for the affected areas" so that retailers will not be able to take advantage of the victims needing to stock up on food.

Typhoon Pablo, which entered the Philippine area of responsibility on Tuesday, has brought severe damage to provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte in Region XI; Surigao del Sur in CARAGA Region; Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City in Region X; Siquijor in Region VII; and, Palawan in Region IV-B.

More than 400 people were killed by the typhoon, while hundreds more remain missing, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on Friday.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte, in an interview on Radyo ng Bayan Saturday, clarified that price controls on goods will be in effect only in areas hit by the typhoon.

"Yes, correct. Sa affected areas lang," she said, citing the Price Act and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

"That is according to… Republic Act 7581 (The Price Act)---that is the appropriate citation: Section 6, Paragraph 1. So the price freeze for basic necessities will be implemented for 60 days, unless lifted. So ito 'yung mga pinupunto kung basic necessities ang pinag-uusapan natin: rice; corn; bread; fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products, fresh pork, beef and poultry meal; fresh eggs; fresh and processed milk; fresh vegetables; root crops; coffee; sugar; cooking oil; salt; laundry soap; detergents; firewood; charcoal; candles; and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health," she said.

Valte said government financial institutions will also give no-interest loans to typhoons victims.

"Nandoon sa Section 17, Paragraph D, ng Republic Act 10121, 'yung granting of no-interest loans by government financing or lending institutions to the most affected section of the population through cooperatives or through people's organizations," she said.