MANILA - Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday gave an explanation on why the official death toll of super typhoon "Yolanda" is rising slowly 19 days after the storm.
Roxas said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) bases its count on the number of death certificates in typhoon-hit areas.
"They will always be behind the number because they need a death certificate para mas sigurado," he told ANC's Headstart.
The Cabinet official said the Bureau of Fire Protection, together with the National Bureau of Investigation, the city health office and scene of the crime operatives, retrieved at least 2,500 cadavers in Tacloban alone.
He said the BFP counts the cadavers while SOCO and NBI take pictures of the bodies, take fingerprints and identification if any and then put the bodies in cadaver bags.
The official death toll from super typhoon "Yolanda" has jumped to 5,500, the NDRRMC said Wednesday. The number includes 4,685 deaths in Leyte province alone.
Roxas, meanwhile, defended President Aquino for saying that the death toll in the calamity would only reach about 2,500, which is much lower than the original estimate by a regional police officer of 10,000 deaths.
Roxas said Aquino gave the estimate based on the information that he was given before his CNN interview.
He also denied that Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria who gave the initial 10,000 death estimate was sacked.
"As regards to the police officer, he was not sacked. There is a procedure in the Philippine National Police wherein given such a calamity where the officers themselves are victims they undergo debriefing. DSWD calls it psychosocial dialogue para lang mailabas nila ang tensions and stresses sa loob," he said.
He said authorities needed a "cool, steady hand" in dealing with the calamity.
"We want a cool, steady, detached hand lalo na yung hindi biktima para yung judgment niya ay yung based on facts, empirical rather than emotion," he said.