By Azer Parrocha

FLOOD VICTIMS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leads the distribution of assistance to flood-hit victims in Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental in Gingoog City Hall in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday (Jan. 11, 2022). Marcos is joined by Gingoog Mayor Erick Cañosa. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – Despite initially having trouble touching down at the Ozamiz City airport, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday led the distribution of assistance to families affected by massive flooding in Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental late last month.

In a news release, Presidential Communications Office Secretary (PCO) Cheloy Garafil said the plane carrying the President made three landing attempts before touching down at the Ozamiz City airport.

“The President then proceeded to conduct a briefing with Misamis Occidental Governor Henry Oaminal at the airport instead of Oroquieta City as originally planned due to inclement weather,” Garafil said.

Garafil said the bad weather also prevented Marcos from doing an ocular inspection over Oroquieta City to see the extent of the devastation.

Marcos, in his speech before the aid distribution activity in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, said he wanted to visit as soon as possible, but the inclement weather prevented him from doing so.

“Mula nung dumating ang balita…mga reports sa atin na nagkakabaha ay gusto na namin makapunta ngunit ang weather, hindi kami makalipad, ayaw ng mga piloto. In fact, galing kami sa Ozamiz, lilipad din kami dun sa flood-hit areas, hindi na nakalipad yung helicopter dahil masyadong mababa ang ulap (Since we heard of the news…reports that there was flooding we wanted to visit but the weather did not allow us to fly, the pilot didn’t want to travel. In fact, we came from Ozamiz and wanted to fly over flood-hit areas, but the helicopter couldn’t take off because of the clouds),” he told guests in Gingoog City Hall in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental.

Data from the PCO showed that some PHP55.81 million worth of financial assistance from the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) were provided to 11,133 beneficiaries in Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental.

Of the figure, PHP8.67 million was provided to 1,733 beneficiaries in Oroquieta City.

Livelihood for fishermen

Marcos distributed to fishermen PHP5,000 cash assistance each under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The government is providing a wide range of assistance to calamity-hit farmers and fisherfolk, including the Sure Aide Program and the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance (RAFA), both programs under the Department of Agriculture.

Other assistance available are the Emergency Shelter Assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the ‘Bangka Ko, Gawa Ko’ Program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The number of families affected by floods in Gingoog City has risen to 18,452, according to local officials.

Forty-five out of 59 barangays have been affected, with villagers living along the coastal areas having the most damage.

Resettlement housing

Meanwhile, Marcos vowed to provide building materials for residents whose houses were partially damaged and resettlement housing for those whose homes were completely destroyed by floods.

“Yung mga completely destroyed na bahay ay titignan natin kung pwede pang magpagawa ng bago o dadalhin namin sa resettlement center kung saan mayroong ibibigay ang National Housing Authority na mabibigyan ng pagkakataon para makatira dun sa ating mga resettlement areas (We’re going to check whether we can put up new houses or bring residents to resettlement centers of the National Housing Authority for residents whose houses were completely destroyed),” he said.

He also assured that residents staying in evacuation areas will be provided with their basic needs such as food and water.

“Patuloy ang aming pag monitor sa inyo at pagtiyak na kayo ay secure, kayo naman kahit papano nabibigyan ng tulong. Ginagawa namin lahat para makauwi na kayo at makabalik na kayo sa inyong tahanan, makabalik na kayo sa inyong mga trabaho (We will continue monitoring the situation and ensuring that you are secure and that you receive assistance. We are doing everything to ensure that you can return to your homes and your livelihood),” he added.

Marcos was joined by Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan and Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo Jr. (PNA)