MANILA, Nov 2 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday emphasized the need to distribute emergency supplies of medicines to the victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

IMPROVE AID SOPs. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the distribution of aid for victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte on Tuesday (Nov. 1, 2022) (MNS photo)

In a situation briefing in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, Marcos acknowledged that typhoon victims are asking for medicine kits as he instructed the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to facilitate the distribution of medicines needed by those displaced by the typhoon.

(MNS photo)

“We will have to supply [them the medicines they need] kasi naghahanap din ang tao ng gamot (because they are asking for medicines). That’s one aspect na hindi natin masyadong napagtuunan – paano tayo magbibigay ng gamot (we failed to focus on – the distribution of medicines),” Marcos said.

“Siguro pwede natin unahan. Huwag na natin hintayin ‘yung mga prescribed medicine. Magdala na tayo ng mga ‘yung simple lang, ‘yung mga para sa sipon, ‘yung para sa ubo, para sa sirang tiyan para (Perhaps, let’s act now. Let’s not wait for the prescribed medicines. Let’s give medicines for runny nose, cough, and upset stomach so), you know, all the common ailments can be cured by non-prescription medicines,” he added.

Marcos said there should also be close coordination with military doctors and medical workers to ensure the immediate distribution of medical supply.

DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said the agency would begin distributing health kits to typhoon victims.

A total of 741,777 families or 2,418,249 individuals in 17 regions nationwide have so far been affected by Paeng, according to the situation report by National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Tuesday.

Based on the NDRRMC report, around 329,299 families or 859,981 individuals are currently taking temporary shelter inside and outside evacuation centers.

Aid distribution

During his visit to Maguindanao, Marcos also distributed goods and financial assistance to the typhoon victims.

Marcos also advised the Bangsamoro government to adopt the “standard package” being distributed by the DSWD to the typhoon victims.

“If you’re going to make your own packs, siguro gawin natin na pareho sa binibigay ng (let’s have it similar with the ones being distributed by the) DSWD because that comes from a long experience [and the agency knows] what are the needs of the victims of a calamity like this,” he said.

This, after lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, head of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, identified “food, wash, shelter, education, and health” as the top five needs, based on damage assessment and needs analysis.

Marcos also directed the Bangsamoro government and the local government units (LGUs) in the region to have proper coordination.

“I noticed na ang BARMM at saka ‘yung LGU, wala kayong (that the BARMM and LGUs have no) joint operations. You have to have joint operations to maximize all of your assets,” he said.

Public works’ district office

Marcos said it was also vital to establish a district office in BARMM to ensure the immediate repair of damaged infrastructure.

He issued the statement, after Sinarimbo informed him that the national office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), particularly its Project Management Office, is in charge of the repairs of national roads and bridges.

The creation of the DPWH’s office, Marcos said, would enable the BARMM to effectively and efficiently respond to emergency situations.

“You need a district office,” Marcos said. “It’s really time for you to organize a district office already para ‘yung BARMM, hindi na kung saan-saan pa pupunta (so the BARMM need not go anywhere else).”

Aerial inspection

Marcos also conducted an aerial inspection of areas in Maguindanao province that were submerged by the flood when Paeng wreaked havoc last week.

Noticing the extent of the damage of the typhoon, Marcos said there is a need to push for tree planting activities as part of the flood prevention efforts.

“So we have to include tree planting in our flood control,” he said.

“Mag-isip tayo ng mabuti dun sa tree planting. Hindi maliit na bagay ‘yan (Let’s consider tree planting. That’s not a small thing). I know people think that it is just to save the environment. No, it is to save lives. It will really save lives,” Marcos added.

The typhoon’s wrath prompted the Bangsamoro government to place the region under a state of calamity.

The death toll from the onslaught of Paeng climbed to 110, the data from the NDRRMC showed.

Around 79 of the 98 reported deaths have been validated, while 31 are still for validation.

Fifty-nine of the validated deaths are from the BARMM, one of the hardest hit by the typhoon.

Around 101 individuals were injured, while 33 were still missing.  (MNS)