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Duterte’s message to ‘Odette’ victims: Help is on the way; just give us time.

As provinces devastated by Typhoon “Odette” continue to be without electricity and water, President Rodrigo Duterte has urged patience and reassured victims that help is on the way.

Duterte decried bureaucratic red tape hampering the transfer of relief in typhoon-ravaged areas in a speech in Maasin City, Leyte, on Saturday.

“I can assure the folks that assistance will arrive. Just give us a little more time because the government has a lot of paperwork. There’s a layer of paper for every move you make… That is how the government operates. If you try to rush things, you may end up with more serious issues. That’s the issue because we can’t reveal the budget right away,” Duterte explained in his own vernacular.

He promised to pay PHP2 billion to Leyte and other provinces affected by the storm but admitted that the sum might not be enough to cover the damage.

“That amount would not be enough to aid everyone in one location and make amends for the damage.” However, you can divide that sum amongst yourselves. Other damages, on the other hand, can be addressed later. If it were up to me, I’d get started on this one and slowly restore the damage,” he continued.

Despite the fact that the government had funds for relief and rehabilitation, he said that a large portion of them had been spent on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response.

“They have reconstruction funds.” The issue is with our people, because, as I mentioned in our meeting last night, I didn’t say we don’t have money, but rather that we don’t have enough monies to help the people. We have money, but it’s nearly gone since we spent it on Covid,” he explained.

Food, drinkable water, and other resources are also being transported, according to Duterte.

“It will reach sooner or later,” he added, “probably sooner because it is already prepositioned near the locations along the typhoon’s course.”

He urged local and national officials to make sure individuals displaced by the cyclone are fed.

“People should not go hungry in the long run, and that is the responsibility of the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development].” General Jalad, on the other hand, is the first to arrive, presumably to take care of everything or to bring the situation under control. They’ll feed everyone, so that’s no longer an issue,” he explained.

Duterte performed an aerial tour of the area ravaged by “Odette” before interacting with local officials.

He already named DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista as the crisis manager in Surigao del Norte and the Dinagat Islands, with help from NDRRMC Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad.

He also directed that all government assets be used to speed up the delivery of help to typhoon-ravaged areas.

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