Duterte bats for state of emergency in Yolanda-hit Visayas

Nov. 12, 2013
"Tacloban City is no more. God must have been somewhere else." - Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. (screen grab from Davao City Information Office YouTube account)

“Tacloban City is no more. God must have been somewhere else.” – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. (screen grab from Davao City Information Office YouTube account)

by Davao Today

Davao City—Touched by what he saw in Yolanda-hit Tacloban City, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte pushed for a declaration of a state of emergency in the ravaged areas.

“I would suggest that a state of calamity is not enough, there has to be a state of emergency, because there is no local government functioning,” Duterte told reporters at the Davao International Airport when he arrived Monday night.

Duterte said “(T)hose that (the people) depend on, the police, the army, and even the social workers of the government, all of them are victims, all of them have dead relatives…all people cannot do their jobs because they are all victims.”

A state of emergency means the suspension of executive, legislative and judicial powers and for government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans, as in the case of natural disasters.

President Benigno Aquino III has declared a state of national calamity Monday night in a televised speech that directs law-enforcement agencies along with the military, to ensure law and order in Yolanda-hit provinces.

Television scenes were full of survivors of Yolanda in Tacloban city forcibly opening a mall and carting off some goods, while others lining to siphon gasoline from an abandoned gas station.

Duterte said he wanted to raise to President Aquino the need to declare a state of emergency for national government to take over the city as local government and defense units had been disabled by the extent of the casualties.

The mayor also talked to national officials Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, leading the post-disaster operations.

In describing what he saw and justifying the need for more decisive measures, an emotional Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said “Tacloban City is no more.”

“The dead are lining the streets, even until now. The people have no electricity, no food, no water, all their dead are on the streets. Survivors are looking up at the heavens…”

“God must have been somewhere else. Or that he forgot that there is a planet called Earth,” he added.

Duterte went back to Tacloban City Monday morning to check on the medical and rescue team he sent out Saturday to help the city ravaged by a super typhoon Yolanda, where thousands are feared dead and survivors desperately needing food, shelter and medical treatment.

The mayor admitted being helpless seeing the extent of the damage wrought by Yolanda, the strongest typhoon recorded in the world that sent strong winds of 280 kph that created a storm surge and engulfed the city with 15 feet waves.

“I don’t know whether to cry. I cannot shout in anger, because you cannot be mad at anybody there. A lot of people in Davao are giving out names for me to check … but, there is no barangay there. No (local office) is moving; The people seem like zombies walking, asking for food, What is this life…” Duterte said.

Duterte had an aerial view of Tacloban in a helicopter ride from Cebu, and he saw everything “was a pleateau.”

“I feel so sorry for them, even if they wanted to retreat and take shelter. Tacloban is (now) a plateau! Even the countryside is flat, so even if the people run for 50 kilometers, they have no place to (be safe). It’s all flat. They have nowhere to go,” he added.

Duterte then urged Davao citizens to help, especially in handling bodies still lining up the street.

“I need people who know how to handle the dead. There are so many; No one is ready to speak out… They are decaying. Remember (it’s been four days): Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday,” he said.

He admitted the contingent of medical and rescue personnel can only last for three to four days.

“Our 911 have complete equipment. But the (rescue team) we sent is only good for three to four days, before they will wear out. There is no clear means of getting food there, no toilets, so I expect my men to want to go back.”

He then urged people to volunteer food and other means. “Filipinos are dead, you have to send help. Even just food, no matter what, no matter how little, we have to help,” Duterte said.

Various groups and institutions in Davao had spearheaded relief drives, including the Archdiocese of Davao.

Activists in Davao postponed their planned Wednesday’s strike and instead will stage a relief drive around communities. (davaotoday.com)

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