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Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III

Malacanang disclosed disaster preventive measures

Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines – The Malacañang Palace has disclosed disaster preventive measures to appropriate government agencies to prevent replication of the massive loss of lives and property caused by natural disasters like super typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan).

At a media briefing at the Palace, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said this is aside from the President’s approval in principle of the Cabinet’s recommendations on critical actions to be taken after Yolanda.

According to Coloma, “livelihood assistance for farmers and fishermen has also been prioritized due to the extreme damage to crops and coconut trees and the disruption of fishing activities in the typhoon aftermath,” he added.

Coloma also said President Aquino issued the following directives to the following officials and agencies:

– To Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo: to update the list of the most severely affected towns and cities as priority areas for rehabilitation and reconstruction, based on a 50-km radius covered by the movement of the eye of Typhoon Yolanda. The center of Yolanda had packed winds of up to 250 kph and a powerful storm surge.

– To Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje: to issue a detailed Memorandum Order on the implementation of No-Build Zones. This bars the building of structures within three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas; and 40 meters in forest areas.

– The DENR was also ordered to implement a mangrove reforestation program to the coastlines of Leyte and Samar provinces and similarly affected areas.

– To Secretaries Joseph Abaya (transportation) and Rogelio Singson (Public Works): To prioritize the repair and rebuilding of Tacloban Airport, considered the hub of transport in Eastern Visayas.

The two were also directed to study the construction of an “all-weather airport” in line with the DPWH’s program to make structures more resilient.

– To all government agencies: to submit to DOST and DPWH complete geo-tagging reports on damaged public facilities, which will be a basis for post-disaster needs assessment and appropriate recovery and reconstruction plans.

– To DOST and the Communications Group: Fine-tune communication, education and information programs; use available resources of government media.

“Secretary Montejo clarified that a storm surge requires organized evacuation that can be undertaken within a 24- to 48-hour preparation period while a tsunami alert requires outright, spontaneous evacuation where the lead time can be as short as 30 minutes,” he said.

Coloma likewise said President Aquino ordered the issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 59, which directs government financial institutions (GFIs) to grant a six-month moratorium on outstanding loan payments.

This will also extend interest-free loans to people affected by Yolanda.

Covered by the circular are: Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (Pag-IBIG), People’s Credit and Finance Corp., Philippine Postal Savings Bank, Philippine Retirement Authority, Quedan Rural Credit and Guaranty Corp. United Coconut Planters Bank.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.