PGMA orders massive rescue, rehabilitation and relief operations
after typhoon 'Frank' battered RP
PGMA orders massive rescue, rehabilitation and relief operations after typhoon 'Frank' battered RP

OPS 22 JUNE 2008

Employing all the available means of communication at her disposal, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo convened the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) through teleconferencing this afternoon to issue last minute directives and to be kept abreast on the status of typhoon "Frank's" devastation on the country, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said today.

Upon her arrival at San Francisco, California, the first leg of her 10-day working visit to the United States, Dureza said the President spoke to NDCC members who were waiting for her at the agency's headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"The President is so concerned about the situation there. Immediately upon arriving here in San Francisco, she convened the NDCC to be able to be personally informed of the situation there," Dureza said.

Dureza added that the President was particularly concerned about the rescue and relief operations being conducted on the Sulpicio Lines marine vessel Princess of the Stars that reportedly capsized off the waters of Sibuyan Island near the province of Romblon during the height of 'Frank's' fury last night.

According to reports, the M/V Princess of the Stars, which carried around 700 passengers and crew, developed engine trouble on its way to Cebu from Manila, then stalled and drifted near Sibuyan Island where it was battered by giant waves brought about by 'Frank.'

Rescue and relief efforts that were supposed to be undertaken by the Coast Guard were hampered because of the bad weather.

Dureza said the President instructed the NDCC and other concerned government agencies to mount an operation and logistics center in Cebu so that immediate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations can be immediately organized from an area that is not directly affected by the typhoon's wrath.

He cited the inability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) C-130 cargo aircraft loaded with relief supplies and personnel to immediately leave the vicinity of the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City to reach affected provinces due to strong rains and wind brought by "Frank."

He added that the President instructed the Department of Agriculture "to undertake continuous and upscaling of distribution of assistance to farmers" whose farmlands have been damaged by typhoon 'Frank's" onslaught.

He said that based on an initial update made by the DA some 250,000 hectares of farmlands in the Visayas and Central Luzon were badly damaged and unplantable because of 'Frank.'

Dureza also said the President directed Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to work with power companies in immediately "re-energizing" areas without electricity.

Dureza said the President is talking a very hands-on approach to the situation and will reconvene the NDCC again tomorrow morning at 3:00 a.m. at Malacanang's Kalayaan Hall "before she leaves for her next US engagement in Washington, DC."

He added that the President was assured by officer-in-charge Vice President Noli de Castro that everything was taken cared off and did not see any reason to "cut short" her trip to the United States.

"There's no talk about cutting the trip short," Dureza said adding, "the President is confident the machinery of government will respond (to the situation) adequately and that she is on top of the situation even if she is physically here (in the US)."

(Bookmark this page for future reference)

CABATUAN AIRPORT - Timeline 2008