By Azer Parrocha
WORKING HOLIDAY. President Rodrigo Duterte bows as a gesture of respect as he visits families affected by Typhoon Odette at an evacuation center on Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte on Dec. 22, 2021. Duterte said Thursday (Dec. 23, 2021) he would spend the holidays working to ensure that communities battered by “Odette” would receive their much-needed assistance. (Presidential photo by King Rodriguez)
MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Thursday he would spend the holidays working to ensure that communities battered by Typhoon Odette would receive their much-needed assistance.
“Maski ngayong Pasko, magta-trabaho pa rin ako at marami akong pupuntahan yung mga lugar na gutom yung tao, may sakit na, at hindi nakakain (Even if it’s Christmas, I am going to work and I am going to visit a lot of places where people are hungry and sick),” he said in a speech in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Duterte said the government would work “overtime”, noting that it is the least he could do to help his fellow Filipinos at a time of crisis.
“Ang gobyerno hindi magsara para maski na Pasko. Sabi ko magsakripisyo na muna tayo total marami nang Pasko sa buhay natin, sobra-sobra na. Itong Pasko na ito, ibigay natin sa tao. ‘Yun lang naman ang maibigay ko sa personal (The government will not close even on Christmas. I said let us make a sacrifice because we have spent so many Christmases in our lifetime. This Christmas, let us give back to the people. That’s the only thing I can contribute personally),” he said.
Aside from extending assistance, Duterte said he also wanted to bring hope during uncertain times.
“I am here to give you hope,” he added.
He assured that the military and police would also be deployed to maintain peace and order in typhoon-hit provinces amid reports of looting caused by lack of food and other basic supplies.
“So ta-trabaho kami. Pati ang military, pati ang pulis. Stay put sila para namang wala masyadong gulo. Para lang konting disiplina at mabigyan lahat (We will work. Even the military and police. They will stay put to prevent trouble. So that there would be discipline and everyone would receive aid),” he said.
Duterte also assured victims that he has raised PHP10 billion for disaster response.
“Naka-raise ako ng PHP10 billion so ‘yan ibigay sa tao (I have raised PHP10 billion for the people). It does not include everything but only ito… para lang sa tao galing sa opisina ko ‘to. Iba yung mga tulong ng ibang ahensya. At ito para lang sa makahawak ng pera at iikot yung pera sa isang lugar para makatindig ulit yung mga tao (this amount is from my office. It is different from the assistance from agencies. This is only so that money could be distributed to communities so they can recover),” he said.
He apologized anew for delays in the distribution of aid, noting paperwork took time and funds were depleted.
“Sa totoo lang, hirap din kami dito sa itaas (To be honest, we are also having a difficult time) because of the so many places scattered around at malalayo (and they are far),” he said.
Meanwhile, he also bared that he would travel to Cebu to hold a command conference with security forces.
“Pupunta ako ng Cebu, doon ako mag meeting. Pinatawag ko yung mga pinaka malaki sa militar pati pulis, magbigay ako ng instructions (I am going to Cebu to hold a meeting there. I summoned top officials in the military and police to give them instructions),” he added.
Duterte previously visited Maasin, Leyte; Inabanga, Bohol; Argao, Cebu; and Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, Siargao Island, and Dinagat Island to meet local officials and personally distribute relief assistance to those displaced by the typhoon. (PNA)