Defense chief cites lessons learned from Yolanda

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Friday, November 29, 2013

DEFENSE Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Friday cited a few lessons learned in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that brought massive destruction in Eastern Visayas.

Interviewed by reporters at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Gazmin said there is a need to increase the number of C-130 transport planes of the military, noting that they are only three C-130s in the inventory of Philippine Air Force at present.

Gazmin, who concurrently chairs the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said there were inadequate relief goods that arrived for the victims because there was only C-130s to transport these much-needed goods.

The military leadership has said two additional C-130s are being acquired.

"We are addressing this problem. We will increase the number of our C-130s, improve our communication gadgets, organize better our local government units so that the LGUs will not be totally crippled," he said.

Communication lines were downed shortly after Yolanda struck, along with electricity. Cellphone services were back weeks after but electricity is not yet fully restored.

He also said that residents should be relocated from the shoreline of Tacloban City to save them from storm surges.

"Many died due to storm surge but one of the victims said their house was 100 meters away from the shore but they were still carried away," he said.

"So how far is the safe area? This is the subject of a study by the DOST (Department of Science and Technology so that this can be inputted in rebuilding efforts, rehabilitation of the city," the official also said.

As of Friday, the death toll due to Yolanda has reached 5,598, while 1,759 others remain missing. The NDRRMC reported that 38 more bodies were recovered in Tacloban City and Estancia town in Iloilo.

On whether a government department should be created to deal with the effects of disasters, Gazmin said: "That's a very good idea. I think that would be a good approach to the problem since we are recipient or we experience all kinds of disasters in our area having been situation in the so-called ring of fire."

He said the Building Code should be revised so that structures can withstand strong typhoons. "Those are the lessons we learned," he said.

Gazmin said the government and the public should be united in dealing with the effects of such disaster and not blame each other.

"This is not the time for blaming one another. This is the time to sit down, talk and help, and assist our countrymen stand up, to come up with a better environment," he said.

Gazmin also said they are injecting a "cash-for-work" program so that the affected population will not fully rely on relief goods the government is distribution.

"We are introducing the cash-for-work so that they'll have money to buy goods and food. To those with no job, we will have to continue providing them with relief goods," he said. (VR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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