MANILA, Philippines --- With some typhoon-hit communities still out of reach, President Benigno S. Aquino III is calling on Filipinos to join the massive relief effort to show the victims that they are not alone in this difficult time.
At the 15th Philippine Quality Awards ceremony in Malacañang, the President appealed for charity, compassion, and bayanihan, particularly in the use of private helicopters and trucks to bring relief goods in the communities devastated by typhoon "Pablo" last week.
Although the government is working round the clock to hasten the disaster relief effort, Aquino admitted that they have struggled to bring in food and relief convoys in some areas due to roads blocked or swept away by floods and landslides.
"This is time when each of us has the moral obligation as fellow human beings to join in and display the compassion, the charity and the bayanihan inherent in every Filipino. 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," the President said in his speech.
"Thus, today I ask you: if you can extend any amount of help to those who have been affected, it would mean so much more. It is about more than money, it is about more than sharing resources. It is about showing that 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," he added.
Faced with problem of some areas cut off by damaged roads, the President asked private individuals and companies to lend their helicopters and trucks "so we can meet our transportation needs."
"So, if any of you here use choppers in your company operations, or if you know anyone willing to lend theirs, may I ask of you: Would you be willing to lend a helping hand? And we guarantee you: you will have a grateful Philippine people and nation," he said.
The President had earlier declared a state of national calamity to speed up rescue and relief missions in the aftermath of the deadly typhoon that killed over a 700 people and left hundreds more missing. Hungry and homeless survivors have reportedly begged for food amid stalled delivery of relief aid to isolated communities.
Aquino said the towns of New Bataan, Compostela Valley and Boston, Davao Oriental "really looked liked battlefields" when inspected the extent of the damage from the storm last week.
Although national government agencies were well prepared for the typhoon, the President acknowledged that even the best preparations won't be enough without the cooperation local government units.
"Looking forward, we will improve our synergy with local government; and we will guide them through the processes they have to go through to further minimize casualties in the future," he said.
The government also plans to improve disaster preparedness and management in areas that are not usually hit by storms, according to the President. He noted that one of the hardest-hit areas in Mindanao did not experience any severe storm since 1912.
Last Tuesday, the President announced the Department of Energy has promised to restore electricity in storm-hit Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental before the end of the year.
Relief assistance and interventions from foreign and local sectors continued to pour into areas devastated by typhoon "Pablo," which left at least 740 people dead and almost 900 still missing.
Among the latest group of donors were officials of the United Nations' World Food Program led by WFP Country Director Stephen Anderson and National Anti-Hunger Ambassador cum movie actress KC Concepcion, who distributed varied packs of relief goods.
Charlene Tordesillas, WFP media liaison officer, said Concepcion and Anderson immersed with the villagers of Barangay Cabinuangan of New Bataan, Compostela Valley suffered the brunt of last week's terrifying storm.
Yesterday, the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), extended relief goods worth 45 million yen (approximately P22 million) for typhoon victims. (With reports from Ali G. Macabalang, Roy C. Mabasa, Aaron B. Recuenco, and Ellalyn B. de Vera)