MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The government is studying the possible declaration of a state of national calamity as more people in Visayas and Mindanao remain struggling in the wake of typhoon "Pablo".
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said the recommendation to President Benigno Aquino III to declare a state of national calamity will depend on the assessment on the ground.
The NDRRMC said so far, 26 municipalities and four provinces have declared a state of calamity.
Ramos said he will also push for a review of logging and mining policies in the region, following reports that the illegal activities contributed to the landslides.
He also plans to propose the building of centralized evacuation centers as some structures supposed to shelter evacuees were also destroyed at the height of the typhoon's onslaught.
Aquino arrived at the Davao International Airport at around 10:30 a.m. to make rounds in areas devastated by typhoon "Pablo". As of posting, he was on his way to New Bataan, Compostela Valley. He will also visit Cateel, Baganga and Boston in Davao Oriental.
"The president will inspect these areas to see how the people are doing -- to see whether the operations for relief and rescue are proceeding as planned," Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang told ANC.
Aquino was accompanied by Carandang, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Environment Secretary Ramon Ramon Paje, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.
Carandang said the president is concerned that the number of fatalities continues to grow. " The president is deeply concerned about the number of casualties…even one life lost is one life too much," he said.
The official death toll from the typhoon has risen to 418. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said this figure is expected to rise further with some 383 still missing.
At least 251 died in Compostela Valley, whose towns of New Bataan and Monkayo were heavily devastated by flashfloods and mudslides.
In Davao Oriental, where the typhoon's eye first landed on Tuesday, at least 132 were reported dead.
The NDRRMC pegged the damaged from the typhoon at P4 billion. - with a report from Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News