MANILA – Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Thursday assured the public that government search and rescue (SAR) operations are now in full swing as Typhoon Ulysses battered most parts of Luzon.
Año said the search and rescue operations are now ongoing especially in the affected areas in Cainta, Montalban, and San Mateo in Rizal and Metro Manila, especially Marikina City.
“Ang iba natin kababayan ay nasa bubong na na-stranded. Huwag kayo mag alala parating na ang tulong lahat ng mga assets mula sa PNP (Philippine National Police), AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), PCG (Philippine Coast Guard), BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection), sila lahat ay idi-dispatch at ide-deploy dito sa mga areas na ito ang mamamahala nito of course ay ang ating MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) at JTF NCR (Joint Task Force National Capital Region) para iisang command tayo, ang priority natin ay mailigtas ang mga kababayan natin (Many of our fellow Filipinos are stranded in their roofs. Don’t worry, help from all our assets from PNP, AFP, PCG and BFP is on the way and they would be dispatched and deployed in these areas. The MMDA and JTF NCR would be in charge so that we would have a single command and our priority is to save our fellow Filipinos),” Año said in a Laging Handa briefing.
He added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is ready to send food packs and other relief goods to typhoon-affected areas.
He said the local government units have heightened their disaster preparedness efforts ahead of the onslaught of “Ulysses”.
“Wala pa tayong eksaktong numero pero marami na tayong nailikas. Nagkaroon tayo ng preventive evacuation bago pa dumating ito bagyo. Ito lang yung pagbaha ay parang maihalintulad din natin sa (Tropical Storm) Ondoy sapagkat sabay sabay napuno din yung mga dam natin so kailangan magpalabas ng mga tubig mula sa dam at yung mga floodgates ay binuksan din para naman hindi lumubog yung Metro Manila. Ang tinamaan naman talaga ay yung mga along the river lines ng Pasig at Marikina River (We don’t have the exact figures but we have evacuated many people. We have conducted preventive evacuation before the typhoon arrived. We can compare this to what happened during Ondoy’s onslaught because the dams were filled with water all at the same time so we need to release water from the dams and our floodgates were opened so that Metro Manila would not be totally submerged in floods. The hardest-hit areas were the river lines of Pasig and Marikina River),” he said.
Año said President Rodrigo Duterte’s primary directive is to prioritize saving lives.
“He said we should provide all assistance and rescue using all available resources, money, people, assets. He has only one important order – lives are the most important,” he added.
He also said the government air assets cannot fly due to bad weather but assured that these would be deployed once the weather improves.
“Nakausap ko si Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro just a while ago at nakarating na doon yung mga ibang SAR teams natin at patuloy pa, mga malalaking truck at motorboats (I have talked to Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro just a while ago and our other SAR teams have arrived there and others are on the way, for now we have big trucks and motorboats),” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Teodoro admitted that the resources of the city are not enough to respond to many residents stranded in their flooded homes.
“Meron tayong 50 na rescue boat na ginagamit ngayon para sa iba’t ibang areas pero ang totoo ang 50 rescue boats na ito ay kapos na kapos dahil sa dami ng mga binaha (We have 50 rescue boats that we are using now for different areas but the reality is these 50 rescue boats are not enough because many were affected by floods),” Teodoro said in a radio interview.
He appealed for air rescue as the city government was overwhelmed by the number of affected residents who were trapped in roofs due to floods as houses were submerged by the overflowing Marikina River due to heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses.
“If weather permits, mga air rescue na ang kailangan dahil sa nasa bubong na ang mga kababayan natin ngayon. Punong-puno kami ng pagsubok ngayong umaga. ‘Yung tubig baha at ulan patuloy. Marami tayong mga kababayan na stranded sa (We need air rescue because many of our constituents are in their roofs. We have faced a big challenge this morning. The floods and rains continue. We have many constituents who were stranded in) Provident Village,” he stressed.
Teodoro noted that the Marikina River is now at 21.8 meters, higher than the 21.5 meters during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.
Many roads in the city are not passable due to floods. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan / PNA – northboundasia.com