President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday addressed the country in the wake of the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, which brought on heavy rains that caused massive flooding in many parts of Luzon, including the National Capital Region.
In his prepared remarks, Duterte assured Filipinos that the government is ready to respond to their needs.
"Agencies have already been mobilized to respond to the situation on the ground," he said.
"As one nation, kapit po tayo mga kababayan, magbayanihan po tayong lahat," he added.
Veering off the prepared remarks, Duterte apparently addressed criticism about his presence during the crisis.
"Wala kaming tulog dito," Duterte said, noting that he had just attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' virtual forum.
He added that he had wanted to go out to help people. Duterte said that if it were up to him, he would be out among people ravaged by the typhoon.
"Gusto kong lumangoy, matagal na akong hindi naligo eh. Kaya lang, ayaw nitong mga sundalo, sila ang ayaw gustong maligo, ibig sabihin," he said.
"It's not that I'm at a distance from you. Gustong pumunta doon, makipaglangoy nga sa inyo. Ang problema, pinipigilan ako kasi raw, 'pag namatay ako, isa lang ang presidente. Sabi ko, may vice president naman. Wala naman silang sinasagot. Nagtitinginan lang sila tapos hindi, hindi ka pwedeng mamatay itong panahon na ito. Kung malunod ka, malulunod kaming lahat nagtatrabaho sa iyo."
Duterte had to leave the ongoing virtual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations so that he could focus on disaster response efforts, his spokesperson Harry Roque said.
In an update, Roque said the Philippine National Police had deployed 3,261 search and rescue personnel in anticipation of the typhoon.
Philippine Coast Guard personnel were deployed in various areas such as in Cavite, Manila, Marikina, Montalban and Rodriguez in Rizal to aid LGUs in their respective rescue and relief operations, he said.
Roque also said the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) have more than P800 million worth of stockpiles and standby funds. —Virgil Lopez/JST, GMA News