By Arjay L. Balinbin
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte assured Lanao del Norte officials on Wednesday, Dec. 27, that the government will fast-track the recovery of the province from the devastation caused by typhoon Vinta.
“I can assure you na (that) we will fast-track everything. And I said (that) because of the huge allotment given to Department of (Agriculture),” Mr. Duterte said at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) briefing held in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
“The rule in crisis management is to return as soon as possible to normalcy. That is really the objective. As soon as possible we have to go back to normalcy…Then we continue with the retrieval. I suppose by this time there are still missing persons. I hope they can be found,” Mr. Duterte added.
The President also noted that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has enough budget for the recovery of the agriculture industry in the province.
“I’m sure we still have some money to spare and supplies to share with you….We will have a meeting. I suppose right after the New Year. Wala nang panahon ngayon (We don’t have time left this December) but the money, I said, is already appropriated. It’s in the departments concerned and I will just order them to come here and do their thing, in whatever aspect they are supposed to deal with,” Mr. Duterte said.
Mayor Casan Maquiling of Munai, Lanao del Norte, asked Mr. Duterte at the briefing if the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) could build a temporary bridge in his town so they could transport relief goods to far-flung barangays. Mr. Duterte answered that the government can do it in “five days.”
“He is asking for 10 days, I’m giving him five….We can help. We can ask for the equipment of the Army wherever they are. The nearest can help contribute to the equipment that you will need,” Mr. Duterte said.
“Magtulungan na lang tayo (Let’s help each other). We will provide the equipment. I hope they are nearby so that they can be transported here, so they can come here and do the job immediately,” he added.
The President said he will ask DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar “to coordinate.”
As for the fast distribution of relief goods and medicines, the President said he will task the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to do the job.
“Air Force… If it is a matter of medicine and food to avoid famine,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I’m sure the Air Force will only be too glad to (help). Pareho naman tayong lahat eh (We are all the same anyway). We are workers in the government and our job is exactly what they expect of us to do. That’s why there’s no need for you to thank us…We are all workers of the government. That’s the long and short of it,” Mr. Duterte added.