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PNoy to visit Sendong-hit areas on Dec. 20, not 27 - NDRRMC

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Sunday afternoon clarified that President Benigno Aquino III will visit areas hit by tropical storm Sendong (Washi) before Christmas, and not after as it earlier said. The NDRRMC apologized for what it claimed to be a "typographical error" that indicated Aquino would visit the storm-hit areas on Dec. 27. "Please note that on item no. 5 which states that 'Presidential inspection and visit to affected communities in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City on Tuesday 27 December 2011' should be TUESDAY 20 DECEMBER 2011. We apologize for the typographical error and for the confusion this may have caused," NDRRMC operations center head Edgardo Ollet said in a message posted on the NDRRMC website Sunday afternoon. Ollet issued the "clarification" shortly after deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on her Twitter account that Aquino would visit Sendong-hit areas before Christmas. She tweeted after some netizens questioned earlier indications that Aquino would make the visit after Christmas. "Not true that PNoy is visiting after Christmas," she tweeted Sunday afternoon. When other netizens asked if Aquino has any plans to visit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities, she tweeted: "Yes he does, kindly refer to my earlier posts. Definitely before Christmas, within the week." On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, the NDRRMC indicated that Aquino's visit would be on Dec. 27. In its 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. Sunday updates, the NDRRMC cited a "presidential guidance" that indicated a "presidential inspection and visit to affected communities in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan Ciy on Tuesday, 27 December 2011." Both updates were corrected Sunday afternoon. VP Binay already in CDO   Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday led relief operations in areas affected by Sendong in Cagayan de Oro City, where more than 250 people were killed and over 5,000 families were left homeless.   Binay visited the Cagayan de Oro City Central Elementary School and the West City Central School on Monday morning to distribute 10,000 bags of relief goods and to check on the condition of evacuees, his media officer, Joey Salgado, said in a text message.   “Nagpunta rin siya sa mga punerarya at nakiramay sa families ng mga namatayan,” he added.   Salgado said Binay met with Mayor Vicente Emano to discuss the possible relocation of residents living along the Cagayan de Oro City river.   Binay, who concurrently serves as chairman of the Home Development Mutual Fund (commonly known as Pag-IBIG Fund), has also instructed the agency’s offices in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City in Lanao del Sur to open as early as 7 a.m. to accept calamity loan applications from its members.   Cagayan de Oro City, capital city of Misamis Oriental province in Mindanao, is one of the areas most hit by flashfloods and landslides caused by Sendong. Latest government figures pegged the number of the storm’s fatalities to 332, although the Philippine National Red Cross said the death toll is already at 521.    Koko opens office for help   Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who hails from Cagayan de Oro City, also visited flood-hit portions of the city on Sunday to help affected residents.   The senator will also open his office at the Senate building in Pasay City starting Monday to accept donations for affected families.   “I appeal to all to help us, Kagay-anons, in the adversity we are facing. Maraming salamat po sa kabaitan niyong lahat,” he said on his Twitter account.   He likewise said that aside from water, clothes and medicines, residents of Cagayan de Oro City also need slippers because a lot of those affected are currently barefoot. — Andreo C. Calonzo/KBK/KG, GMA News