Typhoon Juan, the strongest storm that the world has experienced this year, is moving away from the Philippine area of responsibility, leaving in its wake significant damage but a minimal loss of life. The work of bringing life back to normal in the soonest possible time is already underway. For areas where power supply was shut down as a precautionary measure, the authorities are now geared up to restore power as soon as they have been able to properly assess the damage and necessary repairs.
As the supertyphoon leaves the Philippine Area of Responsibility, the DSWD is attending to the needs of 8,042 evacuees (as of 6:00AM, October 19, 2010). They have been able to attend to the needs of affected communities because of the prepositioning of supplies and equipment.
PAGASA alerted us last Wednesday about the incipient typhoon and we informed the public of our ongoing preparations last Friday. I am very happy to report to the public that everyone has delivered. The thorough preparations of all concerned agencies are in marked contrast to the official helplessness of the past, and at present, we haven’t had to ask the public to contribute outside resources.
We have been in touch with LGUs over the past few days and they will be advising me if they will need additional assistance from the national government. I have issued a Memorandum Circular suspending office work in Regions I and II and CAR for all non-essential personnel, to allow affected communities to attend to clean up and rehabilitation work.
Let me commend Secretaries Gazmin, Soliman and Montejo, Undersecretary Yumul, and NDRRMC Executive Director Ramos for their effective management of their respective mandates. To date, the needs of affected communities are being met.
The damage and loss of life could have been much greater had we not prepared for the storm. The actions of the government and the people themselves shows what can be accomplished when we all cooperate to anticipate the needs of our people.
This should serve as a timely reminder to all to depart ourselves from the notion that government resides or depends on one person. It is the sum of all parts, the product of group effort and individual initiative and responsiveness.
The excellent handling of the storm allowed me to focus on the continuing need to attend to other problems that will persist even after this storm has passed. Yesterday morning, I presided over the Anti-Poverty Cabinet Cluster Meeting and then met with our Mindanao governors. Instead of engaging in rehearsed photo opportunities and idle chit-chat, we got the job done: we proved that, together, we can mitigate risk; and that Filipinos working together, minimized of the costs of natural disasters.
While the storm is expected to leave the country today, storm signals remain in force and classes have been suspended in some parts of the country that continue to experience strong winds and rain. Let us remain vigilant and prepared for any eventuality until the weather improves.
Let me close by extending my deepest sympathies to the families of those who have lost loved ones in this supertyphoon.