'Wala namang pagkukulang': Palace denies lapses in Ulysses response

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2020 03:49 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2020 03:57 PM

Residents attempt to cross a landslide affected portion of the highway in Barangay Marinawa, bordering Bato and Virac Catanduanes a day after Typhoon Ulysses hit the province on Nov. 12, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Malacañang said there were no shortcomings in the government's response to typhoon Ulysses, which left at least 67 dead and submerged a northern region under the worst flooding in more than 4 decades. 

While the government "prepared" for typhoon Ulysses' onslaught in Cagayan Valley, authorities "did not expect the gravity of the amount of water that descended on the lowlands," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

Climate change, deforestation, illegal mining, a "chokepoint" in the Cagayan River contributed to the flooding in the region, he said. 

"Maraming pong factor d'yan. We anticipated, but as the governor himself said, they did not actually expect this much water discharge into Cagayan Valley," Roque told reporters. 

"We will strive to do better, pero sa tingin ko po wala namang pagkukulang," he added. 

(There are many factors there. We anticipated, but as the governor himself said, they did not actually expect this much water discharge into Cagayan Valley. We will strive to do better, but I think there is no shortcoming.)

Watch more in iWantTFC

Malacañang is drafting an executive order to formalize the creation of a task force to provide a "whole of government" approach to disasters and recovery efforts, said Roque. 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea's office will lead the task force, he said. 

Asked how the task force would be different from the inter-agency National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Roque said Medialdea could decide on his own, even without meeting other officials, especially if it meant "saving lives."