October 31, 2022
MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is eyeing another yearlong state of national calamity, this time over the devastation so far wreaked by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) that left at least 45 people dead and dozens more missing.
In an online meeting on Saturday, the president convened the entire National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which recommended the declaration of a state of national calamity because 16 of the country’s 17 regions were at “high risk” due to the tropical storm.
Raymundo Ferrer, the administrator of the Office of Civil Defense, also said that 25 of 64 provinces within the storm’s diameter were at “high risk.”
“On behalf of the chairperson, the NDRRMC respectfully recommends the following: declare a state of calamity due to the effects, damage, and projected impacts by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng for a period of one year, unless earlier lifted; and to accept offers of the international assistance based on needs,” Ferrer said at the meeting.
A state of calamity will not only allow the release of calamity funds but also mandate a price freeze on essential products.
Marcos was at first hesitant to declare a state of calamity, but later said he would consider the recommendation.
The president expressed shock at the number of casualties which he said was “a little too high,” particularly in the Bangsamoro region.
“It will be important for us to look back and see why this happened, that we were not able to prevent the casualties. That seems very high for a flooding incident,” he told top Cabinet officials during the meeting.
Also present at the meeting were Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo, and Science Technology Secretary Renato Solidum.
The president told Solidum, who has authority over the national weather bureau, to study what happened during the storm and “make our forecasts more accurate, especially in floods.”
He also ordered Abalos to facilitate the release of calamity funds in typhoon-hit areas, particularly in the Bangsamoro region.
Undersecretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, acting press secretary, said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), including local government units and agencies, has provided P4.1 million in assistance to families affected by Paeng.
“The DSWD said Saturday that the government has available overall relief resources of P1.5 billion with P445.2 million standby funds and quick response fund,” Velicaria-Garafil said.
In a Twitter post on Friday night, Marcos advised the public “to take precautions, particularly those who plan to travel this long weekend.”
The president earlier declared Oct. 31 a special nonworking holiday nationwide to help local tourism recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nov. 1 is also a traditional holiday in observance of All Saints’ Day.