MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday announced a change in leadership for the task force that President Rodrigo Duterte created to fast-track rehabilitation efforts after a recent spate of typhoons, the latest of which left dozens dead and inundated parts of Luzon.
Instead of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea as initially announced, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu will head the task force, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"May kaunti pong pagbabago (there is a bit of change) which is based on science... It also makes sense because when you talk of rehabilitation, you talk basically about roads and bridges and buildings destroyed by the calamity, which is the turf the DPWH," he said.
"You also talk about the scientific reasons why we have typhoons of this nature, which is climate change. And that is the rationale for the DENR co-heading the task force," Roque told CNN Philippines.
Duterte on Tuesday placed Luzon, home to about half of the country's 108 million people, under state of calamity following last week's onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.
This sets an automatic price freeze on basic goods, allows local officials to spend their calamity funds "without restriction," and designates Luzon as "top priority" in relief aid distribution, said Roque.
Ulysses has left at least 73 dead, P2.7 billion in damage to agriculture, and P5.2 billion in infrastructure damage.