Ready for Siony

Batanes residents, known as Ivatans, are no stranger to strong typhoons and have a long tradition of preparing by boarding up their windows with shutters locally called tapangko, and tying up structures or what they call kapanpet. The provincial government said on Thursday morning that the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has been placed under 24/7 alert status for storm Siony (international name: Atsani), which could make landfall by Friday morning, according to the national weather bureau.  Tropical cyclone wind signal #2 was up in Batanes and the neighboring Babuyan Islands. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Siony was located 340 kilometers (km) east of Basco, Batanes and moving slow at 20 km per hour with winds of 100 km/h and gustiness of up to 125 km/h.

EU sets P63-M assistance for typhoon Rolly relief and recovery operations

THE European Union (EU) is sending €1.3 million (P63 million) in emergency relief aid to families affected by typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni). The funding will go to humanitarian aid groups in the Philippines that are providing shelter, food, water supply, and livelihood assistance in the devastated areas, according to the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Manila. “It will not only cover the immediate needs of the most affected populations, but will also help the Filipino people restore their homes and livelihoods so they can get back on their feet as soon as possible. The EU stands in solidarity with those affected in the Philippines,” EU Commission for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said in the EEAS press statement on Thursday. The fund will be sourced from the EU’s Acute Large Emergency Response Tool (ALERT), which is used to respond to natural hazards in places where over 100,000 people or over half the population are affected. Over 230,000 families composed more than 900,000 people have been affected by the typhoon, mostly in the Bicol Region, based on the national disaster management’s council update as of Nov. 5. More than 14,000 houses were totally destroyed while almost 30,000 bore partial damage.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday it has allotted P682.43 million worth of assistance to almost 33,000 farmers in Bicol. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, who visited one of the hardest hit provinces, Albay, said P592.43 million will also be released by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. Another P90 million worth of assistance were given to farmers such as hybrid rice seeds, corn, assorted vegetables, urea fertilizer, farm implements, fishing boats, and fishing gears. Mr. Dar said affected farmers and fisherfolk can also avail of a P25,000 rehabilitation loan under the DA’s Agricultural Credit and Policy Council. Damage to agriculture has reached P2.95 billion as of the DA’s Nov. 5 bulletin. About 126,135 metric tons (MT) of farm produce were lost, while 31,573 farmers and fisherfolk were affected across 66,068 hectares of agricultural land in five regions. Commodities that were damaged include rice, corn, abaca, high-value crops (assorted vegetables, cassava, banana, and other fruit trees), livestock, and agricultural facilities. Malacañang, meanwhile, sent 60 tons of relief goods to Catanduanes, the island province where Rolly first made landfall at super typhoon category. Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque assured residents that the government will provide the food and water they need.

On power facilities, the estimated cost of damage has reached P179.16 million, with the bulk incurred by electric cooperatives in Bicol, according to the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) report on Thursday. FICELCO in Catanduanes sustained the largest damage at P133.06 million. NEA also reported that 52.27 % of the affected power supply has been restored, covering about a million households in Bicol, and parts of Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Eastern Visayas. However, almost a million other households remain without supply, mostly in Bicol, as several transmission lines are still down. Eighteen transmission lines are still offline, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said in a separate advisory. For Catanduanes, Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said in a briefing Thursday that 500 linemen will be sent to help repair posts, but full power restoration could take several weeks. — Jenina P. Ibañez, Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Gillian M. Cortez, and Angelica Y. Yang

House tribunal upholds election victory of Manila’s Lopez

THE House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) upheld the victory of Manila 1st District Rep. Manuel Luis T. Lopez in the 2019 elections. In a resolution dated Aug. 27, released to the media only on Thursday, the HRET junked the electoral protest filed by his opponent, former congressman Benjamin D.R. Asilo. “Our landslide win was clear and irrefutable that even our opponent failed to present his supposed witnesses,” Mr. Lopez said in a statement on Thursday. The nine-member tribunal dismissed the case for being insufficient in form and substance after Mr. Asilo failed to present his 112 intended witnesses who were supposed to prove that “traditional election irregularities, manipulations and anomalies” were committed in the 2019 elections. The HRET, composed of three Supreme Court justices and six members of the House, is currently chaired by Associate Justice Marvic Mario Victor F. Leonen. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Davao City council asked to reassess resolution endorsing Samal-Davao Bridge

A FORMER local consumer group leader has asked the Davao City council to reevaluate, or better yet immediately revoke, the resolution endorsing the construction of the Samal-Davao bridge project. Wenifredo Gorrez, a city resident and former executive director of Konsumo-Dabaw, said the endorsement went against procedure because it was passed before the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) by the Environment department. “Hence, the City Council may not be able to discharge its duty to maintain ecological balance as provided under the Local Government Code based on a complete set of information on the environmental impacts of the project and issue its timely disapproval where justified. The fast-paced implementation of the project will render the City Council’s intervention moot,” Mr. Gorrez said in his letter sent on Nov. 3 to Councilor Melchor B. Quitain, Jr., temporary presiding officer of the council. The endorsement is contained in Resolution No.0384-2019, titled Favorably Endorsing the Samal-Davao City Connector Bridge Project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). During a virtual public hearing conducted by the DPWH last month for its ECC application, Councilor Pilar C. Braga indicated that the city government should still review concerns raised on the bridge’s final design and location despite the endorsement. — Maya M. Padillo