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Tugade orders key transport agencies to ramp up rescue, relief operations in areas hit by ‘Odette’

MANILA --  Transport Secretary Art Tugade has ordered key agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to ramp up rescue and relief efforts in areas left devastated by Typhoon Odette.

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, “Odette” left casualties and a swathe of destruction in its wake in the Visayas and in Mindanao.

“I ordered all transport agencies to make sure that areas that were badly-hit by Odette will receive needed aid and relief. Ang gusto ng Pangulong Duterte, ibuhos ang lahat ng kinakailangang tulong at ayuda sa ating mga kababayan,” Sec. Tugade said.

“We are in close coordination with the Pffice of the President to make sure that the directive of the President is implemented swiftly. Currently, the DOTr has mobilized its personnel, facilities, assets and resources to answer the call for assistance of our kababayans. Rest assured, we will deliver,” Tugade added.

Philippine Coast Guard, PPA, MARINA mounts rescue, relief operations

As of 4:00 of 18 December 2021, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been deploying assets to assist in rescue and relief operations in the Dinagat Islands, Siargao Island and Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, as well as in the Central Visayas, and in the Eastern Visayas which were left battered by “Odette.”

The PCG, in coordination with various shipping companies, also conducted an emergency meeting on Saturday, 18 December 2021, on the recovery of vessels that ran aground or were sunk at the Cebu City Pier and in the Mandaue area.

In addition, the PCG deployed its Cessna plane to conduct an aerial inspection of Kabangkalan City in Negros Occidental.

Meanwhile, to assist in the delivery of needed communication and relief items to the areas affected by “Odette,” the PCG deployed its Parola-class patrol vessels.

The Parola-class patrol vessel BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) was sent to conduct a survey of aground vessels in Loon, Bohol.

Also deployed was the Parola-class patrol vessels BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) and BRP Cape San Agustin (MRRV-4408) to deliver relief goods to the affected areas in Mindanao. BRP Cape San Agustin proceeded to Surigao to deliver relief items from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Another Parola-class patrol vessel, the BRP Bagacay (MRRV-4410) was ordered to go to Davao and transport relief items.

Another Parola-class patrol vessel, the BRP Tubbataha (MRRV-4401), which is the lead ship of the Parola-class patrol vessels of the PCG, left for Cebu bringing needed relief items, fuel, communication equipment, and oil spill dispersants as requested by the Coast Guard District Central Visayas.

Also deployed was the older Ilocos Norte-class patrol boat BRP Nueva Vizcaya (SARV 3502) to deliver DSWD relief goods to Negros Island which was badly-hit by “Odette.”

Meanwhile, PCG Commandant Admiral Leopoldo Laroya said BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) an offshore patrol vessel, and currently, the largest and most modern vessel of the Coast Guard, will depart at noon on Sunday, 19 December 2021, to deliver relief items to Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, the Dinagat Islands, Siargao Island, Southern Leyte, Cebu, and Bohol.

MARINA orders shipowners to prioritize delivery of relief items; PPA takes care of stranded passengers in ports

For its part, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) allowed vessels to sail after Odette left the PAR. The agency also called on domestic shipowners to prioritize the transport of needed relief goods.

MARINA Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said domestic vessels were allowed to sail to prevent the stranding of passengers at ports and terminals and to assist in the delivery of relief goods to areas hit hard by “Odette.”

During a command conference, Empedrad directed all MARINA regional directors to undertake swift coordination with shipowners whose ships were unaffected by the typhoon to resume their operations and to prioritize in the carriage of relief operations.

Empedrad also directed designated MARINA safety engineers to assess the condition of ships as soon as possible and ensure that they are seaworthy and that their Certificates of Public Convenience, Special Permit or other authority to Operate are valid before they are authorized to sail.

Meanwhile, Empedrad said the MARINA Regional Office in Surigao City will be temporarily relocating its operations in its Extension Office in Butuan City beginning Monday, 20 December 2021, while waiting for the complete repair of its regional headquarters.

As for passengers who were left stranded at the affected ports, Secretary Tugade instructed the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to provide them with light meals and to ensure that their safety and convenience are maintained during their stay at the ports and terminals.

Repair of typhoon-damaged airports

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has started efforts to restore airport operations in areas affected by “Odette,” to include interim measures to resume operations without compromising safety, repair of damaged passenger terminal buildings (PTBs), other infrastructure and installations, and to check on the condition of CAAP workers who were affected by the typhoon.

According to CAAP Director General Capt. Jim C. Sydiongco, he will be heading a CAAP technical team composed of the heads of the Aerodrome Development and Management Service (ADMS), Air Traffic and Air Navigation which will assess the repair works needed at the Siargao, Surigao, Maasin and Mactan airports from 19 December to 20 December 2021.

Sydiongco said the inspection team will also be delivering needed communication equipment to restore needed coordination at the typhoon-affected airports. In addition, CAAP, he said, is now exploring sources to fund the needed airport repairs.

“The heads themselves will be going in order to make immediate and final decisions on actions to be taken. In coordination with the management team, CAAP has been exploring sources of fund for the needed repairs, including possible realignment of funds,” DG Sydiongco said. (DOTr)

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Kate Shiene Austria

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Information Officer III under the Creative Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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