MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday continued her assistance efforts for victims of Typhoon Odette, this time in Tubigon, Bohol, just as her relief drive raised over P27 million.
Her fellow 2022 presidential aspirant, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, is proposing that the country must have a super-agency that does not only manage the country's disaster response and resilience but also creates long-term strategies to deal with climate change.
In a Facebook post, Robredo said she went to Tubigon to check on the coastal communities there, indicating that families are still "struggling to pick up the pieces".
Odette made its 5th and 6th of nine landfalls in Bohol on the night of Dec. 16.
Before her return to Bohol, the presidential aspirant visited areas in Negros Occidental and Surigao ravaged by the typhoon. Her camp earlier said the Vice President also planned to visit Leyte and Cebu provinces.
The presidential aspirant, in a separate Facebook post, said they were able to send over 16,000 food packs, more than 74,000 water liters, and at least 15,000 rice sacks to affected areas with the help of Tanging Yaman Foundation, her office's partner for relief efforts.
She expressed her gratitude to volunteers and donors for the relief operations after the foundation announced having more than P27 million worth of financial assistance for typhoon victims.
They will accept donations until Dec. 30, she said. Her office's relief packs will be sent to badly-hit areas with the help of government and private partners.
"Bago pa man mag-landfall ang Typhoon Odette, nakipag-ugnayan na tayo sa iba’t ibang government officials at volunteer groups para ipaabot na handa tayong tumulong sa kanila kung kinakailangan," she said.
(Even before Typhoon Odette made its landfall, we already coordinated with different government officials and government groups to express our willingness to help the victims.)
The presidential contender over the weekend rejected claims that she is politicizing the relief operations as the polls neared, noting that she has always been present during calamities.
“Siyempre, hindi ito totoo. May eleksiyon o wala, andyan tayo 'pag may sakuna,” she said.
(Of course it is not true. We are there whether there is an election or not.)
Her office, meanwhile, said that volunteers continued conducting their relief drive in Cebu and Negros Occidental and distributed rice porridge to affected residents. Her volunteers were also able to set up free charging stations.
“Until now, our teams are still on the ground doing relief operations. We are thankful to all our donors and local partners for helping us every step of the way,” Robredo said.
Robredo has stressed that it was important for leaders to get on the ground and personally check the welfare of calamity survivors.
In a statement, Pacquiao noted that severe weather disturbances in recent years have caused numerous deaths and massive destruction in Mindanao, where he hails.
"Climate change caused by global warming has turned Mindanao into a 'typhoon ally' from November to December," his camp said.
He also observed that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council "is only equipped to respond but not to create long-term disaster adaptation strategies."
"I grew up in Mindanao and we never really experienced strong typhoons. Biyaya para sa aming mga taga-Mindanao ang tubig. Ngayon lang talaga namin nararanasan ang mga ganitong kalalakas na mga bagyo," Pacquiao said.
In this light, he said simply upgrading NCRRMC into a full-blown executive agency as the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience may not be enough.
Rather, it should be integrated with the Climate Change Commission "to ensure perceptive and proactive government action on all forms of disasters, natural or otherwise," he said.
The NDRRMC pegged the Odette death toll to 397, as of Tuesday, with more than a million families nationwide displaced by the storm.
Odette, with international name Rai, struck the southern and central part of the country on Dec. 16 and 17, toppling power lines and trees and unleashing deadly floods.
Civil defense officials said more than 4 million people were receiving aid in 430 cities and towns.
- with reports from Robert Mano and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News