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[box type=”default” size=”large”] To speed up rescue, relief, recovery, rehab efforts [/box]MANILA – With many areas in Eastern Visayas still isolated and many people resorting to looting as supplies run low in the typhoon-hit areas, President Aquino declared the other day (Nov. 10) a state of national calamity.

The declaration will enable the government to respond effectively to the devastation caused by super typhoon Yolanda that battered Eastern Visayas last Nov. 8.

In a televised address, Aquino appealed for public understanding as he announced that the national government would take the lead in the efforts to help the victims instead of just assisting local officials.

Noting that the devastation was massive, the President said some local governments were “paralyzed” despite the preparations they had undertaken.

Aquino said 22 foreign countries had pledged to help and that P18.2 billion in savings, calamity and contingency funds had been earmarked and could be utilized to rebuild Tacloban City and other disaster-hit places.

He approved the release of P1.1 billion in quick response funds for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as well as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to enable the two agencies to immediately bring relief to the victims.

In Proclamation No. 682, Aquino stated the state of national calamity would hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including international humanitarian assistance.

“This declaration will, among others, effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities for the affected areas and afford government ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds to provide assistance and services to the people.”

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Aside from overpricing, hoarding of vital products must also be avoided, he said.

“Like you, I also want to know what we can do to prevent similar situations in these areas in the future,” Aquino said.

Proclamation 682 was in accordance with Republic Act No. 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 and was issued upon the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

All departments and agencies were tasked to provide assistance and services.

“Law enforcement agencies, with support from the Armed Forces, are directed to undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary,” Aquino stated in his proclamation.

Under Memorandum Circular No. 56, the departments and agencies were tasked by the President to help in running the affairs of localities affected in the provinces of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo and Palawan.

“In the coming days, be assured: help will reach you faster and faster. My appeal to you all is: Remain calm, praying, cooperating with, and assisting one another are the things that will help us rise from this calamity,” he said.

“Aid is also arriving from other countries; 22 countries have pledged their assistance, including Indonesia, America, England, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, and Hungary. The private sector is also finding different ways to help our countrymen recover, such as restoring telecommunications and the supply of oil to affected areas,” the President said.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Caution on reporting fatality figures [/box]Aquino also appealed to the media to be more careful in reporting fatality figures.

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He said he has not received any report that thousands have died because of the typhoon.

“If I may appeal, let us reduce the anxiety of those who have relatives in the affected areas by not exaggerating the figures,” he said.

The President called on the public to wait for the validated figures on casualties from local governments and disaster management officials. (Philippine Star)