MANILA, Philippines - The head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Thursday urged the public not to point fingers in the wake of typhoon "Pablo."
NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said that despite all the preparations by local governments, the typhoon was just too strong.
He noted that people in New Bataan, Compostela Valley were already hiding in a government shelter when it was swept away by flash floods.
"Mabilis kasi ang pangyayaring ito. Nandiyan sila sa evacuation center, disgrasya pa rin, malakas masyado yung bagyo. They were prepared," he said.
"Talagang disgrasya lang. This is not the time to blame each other. This is the time to work to assist our people," he added.
Ramos noted that some localities were more prepared like Cagayan de Oro, which had zero casualties.
"Natuto na ang mga tao sa CDO. Complacent naman ang mga tao dito sa eastern seaboard," he said.
He said people living in Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley - now all declared to be under a state of calamity - were warned about the severity of the storm.
"Matagal na ito. Pang walo , 9 na araw, sinasabihan sila na malakas ito to a point na tinatakot natin sila. Nangyari pa rin ito," he said.
Ramos said they are in the process of search-rescue-retrieval operations. He said the biggest problems are downed communication lines, lack of electricity, impassable roads and downed bridges.
Typhoon Pablo's aftermath was made even more tragic because of illegal mining in the area, particularly in Compostela Valley.
"Malaking kinalaman yung mining. Bawal mag mine dyan, nandyan pa rin, existing. Butas butasan nila yung bundok, dahil nandun yung gold. So do not blame the govt, the blame is sa ating lahat," he said.
Disaster officials said nearly 200,000 people were homeless and 475 confirmed dead after the Philippines' worst typhoon this year.