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Marcos places four Paeng-hit regions under state of calamity

The Philippine government on Wednesday placed some regions under a state of calamity following the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. signed Proclamation No. 84 declaring a state of calamity in Regions IV-A (Calabarzon), V (Bicol), VI (Western Visayas), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Wednesday, November 2.

The state of calamity shall remain in force and effect for a period of six months unless earlier lifted by the President, the Proclamation stated.

It also directed all government departments, agencies, and instrumentalities concerned to continue implementing and executing rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation measures in accordance with pertinent operational plans and directives.

All departments and other concerned government agencies are also directed to coordinate with the LGUs to provide or augment the basic services and facilities of affected areas, it added.

The declaration of state of calamity will hasten the rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector.

This will also control the prices of basic commodities and necessities and will allow the national government and local government units to utilize appropriate funds for their rescue, recovery, relief, and rehabilitation measures.

Marcos earlier thumbed down the proposal to declare a nationwide state of calamity in the aftermath of Paeng, saying the damage was "highly localized."

In the National Capital Region, which also experienced the brunt of Paeng, Muntinlupa has also been placed under state of calamity through Resolution No. 10 s. 2022.

In a Facebook post, Mayor Ruffy Biazon said this would help hasten the city's relief operations as well as repair and rehabilitation efforts.

Latest tally from the  National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) shows there are 121 reported deaths due to Paeng, of which 92 have been confirmed.

At least 103 people were reported injured and 36 were reported missing, the NDRRMC said.

A total of 3,180,132 individuals or 927,822 families in 7,341 barangays across all regions were affected by Paeng, it added.

Prior to signing Proclamation No. 84, Marcos visited Cavite and Maguindanao, two provinces severely hit by Paeng.

In Maguindanao, Marcos tasked Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel Bonoan to set up a district office in BARMM to speed up the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructures in times of calamities.

Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman welcomed this move, saying aside from overseeing infrastructure repair, a DPWH office in BARMM would also help in ramping up implementation of infrastructure projects funded by the national government.

In a statement, Hataman said a similar proposal was raised during the 18th Congress through Resolution 333 which he and other BARMM lawmakers filed.

"Hiling natin sa 19th Congress at sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Marcos Jr. na ituloy na ang pagtatayo ng DPWH District Engineering Offices sa bawat lalawigan ng BARMM para sa mga ganitong pagkakataon na kailangang mag-implement ng mga national projects sa BARMM, pangalagaan ang mga national roads and highways, at para sa mabilis na pagresponde sa ganitong mga pagkakataon," he said.

(I hope this measure will be pursued this time because this will speed up delivery of government response.)

Meanwhile, the relief drive led by Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte had already raised P75 million worth of cash and in kind donations as of Wednesday. 

Romualdez, in a statement, said that while the cash pledges from House members have reached P49 million, P26 million were in kind donations, including food items, blankets, and toiletries.

He earlier said that beneficiaries of the relief mission will also receive aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program.

"We need all the help that we can get. We [have] already reached many affected families nationwide, and we vow to bring the remaining aid to the affected families as soon as possible," Romualdez said, adding the donations from House members have so far reached Cavite, Camarines Norte, Tacloban City, and Maguindanao.  —with Llanesca T. Panti/KBK/VBL, GMA News