by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News | 12/12/2012 9:03 PM
MANILA, Philippines - Damaged roads and bad weather prevented authorities to deliver relief goods to isolated areas affected by typhoon Pablo.
But officials say efforts are underway to reach these areas.
President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday renewed his appeal for help, especially for private companies to lend their helicopters or trucks to transport relief goods.
"There are still some isolated communities that we are having difficulty penetrating due to weather and due to the closure of various roads due to landslides," Aquino said in his speech during the conferment of the Philippine Quality Awards on business organizations.
"Thus, today I ask you: If you can extend any amount of help to those who have been affected, it is about showing the Filipino people that they are not alone during this time of great pain-that their countrymen, their government, and even the companies that operate here have their back."
Aquino was updated on the rescue, recovery, and relief operations by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) officials and members of the task force on search and rescue operations headed by Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. General Jorge Segovia.
In a press briefing, Segovia said search and rescue operations are still underway, following Aquino's orders to cover 100 percent of the areas affected.
"The magnitude of the disaster is a challenge in itself. Reaching people in remote areas had been quite difficult but we were able to do that using our air assets. For our aerial capability, the weather continues to be a challenge because especially in the afternoons the low cloud ceiling prevents our helicopters from flying over these areas," Segovia told reporters.
"As far as our maritime search and rescue is concerned, we still have to account for more than 300-plus missing and, of course, as ordered by the President he wants to at least give the families of those who are missing a closure to what really happened to their loved ones."
NDRMMC Executive Director Benito Ramos is not giving up hope on the hundreds still missing, including 313 fishermen. Ramos is hoping that the number of deaths caused by "Pablo" will not surpass that of "Sendong" and "Frank."
"I hope not because I'm still praying that those missing are still alive," Ramos said.
The Palace said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units (LGUs) have managed to deliver goods to all municipalities of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
"Secretary Dinky Soliman would like to reiterate that all municipalities in ComVal, all municipalities in Davao Oriental have already been reached, including in high elevated areas," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Military and civilian personnel are finding ways to reach isolated areas and deliver relief goods with several roads damaged, including dropping goods from choppers.
"Because some of the areas were initially cut off, delivery of these relief goods had been difficult. There were improvisations that were made. One is going around through Surigao. [With] the broken bridge connecting Caraga and Baganga, somehow our soldiers and civilians found a way of traversing this through banca and making it capable for people and some medicines to cross," Segovia said.
"There are a couple of sitios in Davao Oriental that were found to be isolated and the brigade commander there, Col. Guerrero, has made sure that relief goods are on their way to the area. They tried to do it by helicopter but they failed because of the weather so he ordered our foot soldiers to deliver the relief goods."
"In Davao Oriental, they are now on their third round of delivering relief goods. But the sheer number of the people affected really overwhelmed our organization, both the local government and the military. But we continue to attend to all these problems and try to find solutions to them."
The Palace anticipates an improvement in the flow of relief goods with roads being gradually cleared.
"The good news is DPWH this afternoon just reported to us that the bridge coming from here is naayos na po... So we can reach Cateel now by truck by 4 hours. So we're redeploying some of the load. Instead of going by sea, it's a lot faster to go by truck. So there will be an improvement in goods' flows to this general area because of the restoration of an area where trucks can go to," Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said.
The Palace is also calling on doctors and medical personnel to help in disaster-affected areas.
Almendras said the government intends to help victims recover from the effects of typhoon in the long haul, including helping them rebuild their damaged homes.
"Hindi tapos ang problema. Napakalaki ng problema… What we need to do is work together. Government will do its share but we need everyone's help as well. We have resources. But it's not a question of resources. It's a question of hands and feet that will help bring these goods to where they are most needed," he said.