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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Candidates pause politics, send relief to ‘Odette’ victims

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Candidates for the two top national posts temporarily set aside politics and exhausted their resources and machinery to aid victims of Typhoon ‘Odette,’ which battered much of the Visayas and Mindanao last week.

Politicians tapped their volunteers to deliver relief goods to displaced Filipinos in several provinces, including Bohol, Cebu and Surigao Del Norte.

In its maximum strength, ‘Odette’ (International Name: Rai) delivered sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour and gustiness of 270 kilometers per hour. Categorized into a super typhoon, ‘Odette’ made its landfall nine times, first in Siargao last Thursday afternoon and last in La Libertad, Negros Oriental on Friday midnight.

The Philippine National Police reported 375 casualties from the monstrous typhoon, at least 515 injured and 56 still missing.

‘Odette’ briefly halted campaign events of candidates, sending relief to victims who are combing through the rubble of pancaked houses and fallen trees and posts.

Here are the candidates’ relief efforts this week:

Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello

Partido Lakas ng Masa standard-bearers Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello announced they would give solar lamps, charging packs and relief goods to ‘Odette’ victims. They also opened a donation drive for those who want to drop off monetary and in-kind donations.

Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto III

In a press release, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said his team from Partido Reforma was already coordinating with local authorities in Visayas and Mindanao to transport heavy equipment, housing materials, food and water to areas heavily affected by ‘Odette.’

Earlier, when Sen. Manny Pacquiao called on fellow candidates to unite in helping ‘Odette’ victims, Lacson slammed such a move as “calamity politics” that is the “lowest form of campaigning.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Lacson’s running mate, added that he has sent relief without any media presence: “Bago siya nanawagan marami na akong tulong na padała. Hindi lang ako mahilig mag-broadcast ng tulong kahit kalian.”

Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte-Carpio

Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, dubbed as ‘UniTeam,’ visited seven provinces in two days to personally send relief goods to ‘Odette’ victims.

On December 19, the Uniteam delivered relief goods in Southern Leyte, Agusan Del Norte and Bohol; the next day, they were in Masbate, Capiz, Surigao Del Norte and Negros Occidental.

Overall, they disclosed that they distributed PhP38 million worth of donations as of Monday, which included cash, relief items and construction materials.

Isko Moreno and Dr. Willie Ong

Aksyon Demokratiko bets Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and Dr. Willie Ong sent relief aid to severely hit provinces. Moreno himself flew to Cebu on Saturday and Bohol on Tuesday to turn over cash and aid to the victims of ‘Odette.’

The Manila local government unit (LGU) allocated P2.5 million from its budget for ‘Odette’ survivors, in addition to the PhP370,000 personal donations from all 37 councilors in six districts. Manila LGU also repacked relief items to aid victims who are bereft of basic necessities.

Earlier in the week, the Manila mayor called on the Insurance Commission (IC) to quickly release insurance claims for ‘Odette’ victims: “Ako po ay nananawagan sa Insurance Commission na pabilisin ang pag-proseso ng claim ng insurance para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan na nabiktima ng Bagyong Odette. ‘Yung kanilang mga bahay at negosyo ay wasak, kaya kailangan maging mabilis ang aksyon ng mga insurance company.”

Manny Pacquiao and Lito Atienza

Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza of the PROMDI alliance were the first to call fellow politicians to step up relief efforts for ‘Odette’ victims. “Magsama-sama tayo upang tulungan ang ating mga kababayan na nasalanta ng bagyo. Now is the time to come together as one. Tulungan natin sila,” he said in a Facebook post.

Pacquiao canceled his birthday party to deliver 15,000 grocery bundles to Caraga; 10 metric tons of blankets, solar lights and assorted food packs to Tacloban; and 20 bags of 20-kilogram dog food and other relief goods to Siargao Island.

Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan

Volunteers – dubbed as ‘Kakampinks’ – of Vice President Leni Robredo and running mate Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan scattered throughout affected areas to deliver relief goods to ‘Odette’ survivors.

Robredo herself visited nine hard-hit areas this week: Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Surigao City, Siargao, Southern Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Iloilo City and Palawan.

Celebrities like Angel Locsin and Kris Aquino contributed to the team’s relief operations, with Aquino joining Robredo in Negros Occidental to personally distribute relief goods.

In a livestream Monday, the vice president described the situation on the ground: “Ang general feeling ng mga kababayan natin na mula doon sa pinangyarihan ng bagyo na hindi natin masyadong alam dito kung ano yung tunay na nangyari sa kanila dahil unang una down nga yung communication lines, napakahirap magpadala ng mga pictures.”

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