- Posted December 7, 2012 by
Davao City, Philippines
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Aquino orders probe on massive deaths in Philippine typhoon
By Ben O. Tesiorna
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III wants an investigation on the factors that led to the death of 439 people, with 383 still missing, during the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo in Southern Mindanao.
Among the factors the President wants the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Justice to look into is the origin of the logs that were carried by the flashflood that ravaged the municipality of New Bataan in Compostela Valley and destroyed a bridge in Davao Oriental.
One official during the presidential briefing inside the Davao International Airport Friday said the logs could have been uprooted by the strong water current brought by Typhoon Pablo, but President Aquino showed pictures of cut logs published in newspapers.
"Uprooted ba tingin nyo dito? Parang cut eh," Aquino said.
The President visited the towns of New Bataan and Cateel Friday and saw for himself the location of communities very near geohazard areas.
He was told during the briefing that a forced evacuation was implemented in the towns of Baganga and Cateel in Davao Oriental and New Bataan in Compostela Valley but the evacuation centers were also affected by the typhoon as well.
In New Bataan, in particular, Aquino said the community is very near a narrow channel of the river that could easily spill over to the houses during heavy rains.
"Nakita ko na yung community dun ay masyadong malapit sa isang narrow channel that could really burst if magkaroon ng funnel effect," the President observed.
It was learned that prior to the arrival of Typhoon Pablo, a dam caused by accumulated debris formed in an area above several barangays in New Bataan.
Authorities blamed the bursting of the dam for the flashflood that hit New Bataan and caused the death of so many residents.
President Aquino said the probe's ultimate goal is to minimize if not prevent massive deaths during calamities like typhoon.
"The end point is to minimize if not eliminate casualties during situations like this. I would like to get to the point na sigurado yung Pilipino na mabibigyan sya ng timely information, meron syang malilikasan na lugar para mailayo sya sa panganib, at mabawasan kundi tuluyang mawala yung nawawalang Pilipino kada merong natural disasters tulad nito," he said.
Aquino said the DILG will look into the possible failure of some public officials that led to the massive loss of lives while DOJ will look into the potential criminal and civil liability and the DENR on the necessary scientific facts for whatever conclusions are reached.
State of national calamity to be declared
Upon the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, President Aquino said he will soon declare a national state of calamity so that funds coming from the national coffers could be given to the Pablo-affected areas.
The President said the Executive Secretary is already drafting the Executive Order and he will sign it as soon as possible.
"Merong formality to sign the document and the document is not with me now. They have told me this afternoon that they are recommending the declaration of a national state of calamity which is a necessary step, the executive secretary drafts it and I sign it," Aquino explained.
Pending the declaration, Aquino said the individual provinces have however declared their own state of calamity thus it would suffice for now.
During the briefing, President Aquino was informed about the looting that happened in Cateel during the height of the typhoon last Tuesday. It was learned that 17,000 bags of rice were lost when residents ransacked a rice warehouse in Cateel.
Aquino readily questioned the Philippine National Police how come they were not able to prevent looting in the area. The police director present during the briefing however said that they are unaware of the incident. This prompted the President to demand an explanation from the PNP.
"Its not an excuse not to know what happened in your AOR," Aquino said.
Much of the affected areas are meanwhile still without electricity. The President was informed by a representative from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines that by December 14 they expect to restore power in all of the municipalities affected.
The representative said that by December 23 they expect to restore power in all of the affected barangays. At present, the towns of New Bataan, Cateel and Baganga are still without electricity.
The NGCP representative however said that their operation would still be dependent on the weather conditions in the affected areas. He assured the President though that full restoration of power will be achieved before the new year.
NDRRMC chair Benito Ramos said that as of Friday afternoon, the are 439 confirmed dead, 445 injured and 383 still missing. He said more than five million individuals were affected by Typhoon Pablo in seven regions all over the country. BOT