PNoy visits typhoon victims in Mindanao

by Dharel Placido,

Posted at Dec 07 2012 11:12 AM | Updated as of Dec 08 2012 01:16 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – President Benigno Aquino III arrived in Davao City Friday morning to inspect areas devastated by typhoon "Pablo" in Mindanao.

Aquino landed at the Davao International Airport at around 10:30 a.m. and went straight to his first stop in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

In a short speech, Aquino promised New Bataan residents that the government will do everything to avoid similar loss of lives in the future.

With 357 still missing in Compostela Valley, Aquino said efforts are now concentrated on search and retrieval operations.

"Importante sa akin, number 1, ang ating mga nawawala, yung missing gusto ko ma-account. Kung meron po sana, karamihan, kung hindi pwede lahat, ay buhay pa - maaabutan natin as soon as possible," Aquino told the residents.

"Kailangan maasikaso lahat ng nabubuhay ho, kaya nandito kami ngayon. Nandito ako para makinig, gusto kong malaman lahat ng sagot sa mga katanungang pumapalibot sa aking isipan," he added.

After his speech, Aquino distributed relief goods to some affected residents and P10,000 to those who lost their loved ones.

Aquino is 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, and Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino.

The official death toll from the typhoon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), is now at 418.

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 first landed on Tuesday, at least 132 were reported dead.

The NDRRMC pegged the damaged from the typhoon at P4 billion.

Meanwhile, the government is also studying the declaration of a state of national calamity.

NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said the recommendation to Aquino 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.