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Mario J. Mallari

26 dead, 23 missing in Biliran landslide

Monday, 18 December 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines

Landslides triggered by tropical storm Urduja have killed 26 people and 23 more are missing in Biliran province, authorities said yesterday.

The landslide hit residential structures after the province was battered by continued rains brought about by Urduja.
“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said.
Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in a television interview. He said 23 people were missing.
The national disaster risk reduction agency could not immediately confirm if the 26 deaths in Biliran included the initial three fatalities it reported on Saturday.
Urduja tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte last Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.
At presstime, state weather agency Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Urduja has slightly changed course and is now heading towards Aklan.
SPO1 Eladio Francisco, of the Naval Municipal Police Station in Biliran, said that six residential houses were buried by a landslide in Barangay Locsoon that happened at around 3 p.m. Saturday.
Francisco said that three people were initially confirmed dead while about 25 to 30 others were believed to have been buried under the mud, rocks and trees that went down during the landslide.
“Search and retrieval operations by the Naval Municipal Police Station are continuing, along with other government agencies,” said Francisco.
He said one of those believed to have been buried under the slide was a policewoman.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said that a total of 87,719 people or 20, 342 families in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and Caraga have been displaced by Urduja.
Romina Marasigan, NDRRMC spokesman, said that the council is still confirming the number of fatalities.
Marasigan also said that they are still awaiting details of the landslide that hit Biliran, apparently referring to the one in Naval town.
In its 8 a.m. situational update, the NDRRMC said that a total of 221,953 in the three regions are affected by the cyclone, which has weakened from tropical storm to tropical depression.
“Urduja” cross Samar provinces for nearly 12 hours and has moved over Masbate province as of 10 a.m.
The NDRRMC also reported a total of 19 injured people, mostly due to vehicular accidents, falling debris and landslides. Majority of those injured are residents of Tacloban City.
A total of 20 incidents due to Urduja have been reported, including 15 landslides, four flooding incidents and one capsized boat, in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas and Eastern Visayas.
The estimated damage to infrastructure in Eastern Samar stand at P35 million.
The Philippine Coast Guard, meanwhile, reported that a total of 16,449 passengers, 118 vessels, 1,711 rolling cargoes and 37 motor bancas were stranded in seaports in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas and National Capital Region.
At least 18 houses were also reported to be partially damaged in the city of Catbalogan in Samar and Butuan City in Agusan del Norte.

Storm weakened
Urduja weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, state weather forecasters said.
But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the region.
“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer, told AFP from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon.
The Christmas holidays are a busy travel season in the mainly Catholic Philippines, with people heading home to the provinces.
The nation is battered by about 20 major storms each year.
Samar and Leyte bore the brunt in 2013 of Super Typhoon Yolanda which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.
In the Leyte city of Tacloban, Saturday’s storm brought flash floods of up to 1.5 metres (five feet) and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief.
“The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, told AFP.
Bernadas said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.

No X’mas break
Key government agencies will not take any holiday break as weather disturbances are likely to hit the country during the Christmas season, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Cyclones are being monitored and expected as most Filipinos spen Christmas holidays starting this week.
“Vital services, such as preparedness and response to disasters or calamities shall continue with their operations even during holidays,” Roque said in a statement.
“The Department of National Defense, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and the Office of Civil Defense, in coordination with concerned agencies of the government, is closely monitoring any possible weather disturbance and is working round the clock to render the necessary services,” he elaborated.
Roque assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has “mobilized relief operations to the affected parts of the country.”
“DSWD-OIC Secretary Emmanuel Leyco assured that his agency has a stockpile of 368,000 family food packs worth P223 million, food and non-food items worth P393 million and available standby funds amounting to P245 million,” Roque noted.

Panay also hit
A total of 496 families have been displaced in Panay island as tropical storm ‘Urduja’ battered the region over the weekend.
Jose Roberto Nuñez, chairman of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management 6 (RDRRMC-6) said there are currently 496 families, composed of 2,190 persons, affected in the region.
Out of the 496 families, a total of 256 families were forced to move to evacuation centers due to the continuous flooding.
Specifically, 236 families of the said evacuated families are in the province of Capiz while 20 families are in Tambaliza Island in Concepcion, Iloilo.
The affected families include 295 in Capiz; 174, Concepcion, Iloilo; and 27 in Aklan.
According to Nuñez, the towns of Dumalag, Sigma, Maayon, Pan-ay and Roxas City are currently flooded.
But he assured that all national and provincial roads and bridges in the region are currently “normal and passable.”
He also assured that the local DRRMC of the affected areas are attending to the needs of the displaced families.
As of the moment, Nuñez said that there is zero casualty in the region.
“RDRRMC 6 is currently on red alert status in order to facilitate a coordinated monitoring and response operations in the whole of Western Visayas,” Nuñez said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Coast Guard-Iloilo (PCG-Iloilo) Commander Lt. Ramil Palabrica said that a total of 1,524 passengers are currently stranded in the different ports and terminals as all boat trips were still canceled in the region, except boats traveling from Iloilo to Guimaras, vice versa.
He said that boat capacity has been reduced to 75 percent to secure the safety of the passengers.
Among the stranded include 847 stranded passengers in Caticlan port going to Boracay island; 355 stranded passengers in Lapuz Port going Bacolod City; 108 stranded passengers in Fort San Pedro Terminal going to Manila, Cebu City and Cagayan de Oro; 198 stranded passengers in Dumangas
Port going to Bacolod City; nine stranded passengers in Semirara Wharf; and seven stranded passengers in Libertad wharf in the province of Antique going to Caluya.
Palabrica said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 6 on Sunday morning has provided 40 family food packs for the 108 stranded passengers in Fort San Pedro terminal.
Palabrica said that they cooked the food at the office of PCG that is beside the said terminal and served them to the passengers during lunch.
He added that they have also provided packed breakfast to the passengers this morning as some private groups and individuals donated some food packs.
Palabrica said that the DSWD-6 is continuously conducting an assessment of the different ports and terminals in the region to provide the stranded passengers of their needs.
The trips of the boat will resume once the tropical storm signal will be lifted in the affected areas here, Palabrica said.
Chief Inspector Louie Barrientos, focal person for disaster of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) said that they are also currently on “full alert” status to provide assistance to the public especially to the displaced families in the region.
As of 2 p.m Sunday, Nuñez said that the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo are still under the tropical cyclone signal no.1 based on the state weather bureau, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.
While Urduja is expected to pass by the vicinity of Boracay island at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nuñez assured that the local DRRMC of Boracay is currently doing all the necessary preparations to secure the safety of the residents. Ted Tuvera

Relentless anti-drug efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have resulted in the surrender of a total of more than a million drug personalities nationwide.

Latest data from the PNP-Directorate for Operations showed that a total 1,262,188 drug personalities surrendered in various parts of the country due to the PNP’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Director Camilo Pancratius Pascua Cascolan of the PNP Directorate for Operations said the data of total drug personalities who personally surrendered to the PNP units was from July 1, 2016 to October 10, 2017.
Generated data showed in 71,578 operations conducted, 112,086 suspects were nabbed, while 3,933 died during the reinforcement of police operations, he stressed.
A total of 49,994 surrenderer-minors were also recorded.
Among the drug surrenderers, 1,172,579 were male, and 87,194 females were registered into the list.
Moreover, the data showed that 648,335 personalities were unemployed and 260,113 were self-employed based on the thorough assessment of the authorities.
It also showed that 46,443 surrendered drug suspects were students while 293,797 were from private entities.
Among the prevalent illegal drugs confiscated were shabu (1,703,300.94 grams), marijuana (3,812,516.54 grams), and ecstasy (2,650 grams), the report revealed.
Police forces were able to seize also firearms (7,280) and explosive devices (483) during the numerous police operations, Cascolan said.
In addition, 8,566 high value targets (HVTs) were recorded, and 3,485 prominent drug targets have surfaced and surrendered. They are still under the watch of the authorities.
The PNP Anti-Illegal drugs efforts dismantled clandestine drug laboratories in Barangay Lingunan, Valenzuela City; Barangay San Ildefonso, Magalang, Pampanga; Cauayan City, Isabela; and Barangay Palta Small, Virac, Catanduanes.
The biggest drug laboratory dismantled by the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was in Barangay San Juan, Bano, Arayat, Pampanga.
Eighty-three police officers were killed while 238 personnel were wounded in light of the unwavering efforts of the PNP and PDEA from July 1, 2016 to October 10, 2017.
The nationwide effort of the PNP has attained 96.49 percent accomplishment in the year-long period of the police force against illegal drugs, the report said.
This year, the total crime volume has significantly dropped to 8.44 percent as the PNP continued to wage intelligence-driven focused police operations against organized crime groups and street crime gangs.
The PNP last October was ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte to stop operating against illegal drugs following criticisms that the government’s war on drugs resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings (EJKs). The President tapped the PDEA to take over the campaign versus illegal drugs.
However, two weeks ago the Chief Executive directed the PNP to return to the campaign against illegal drugs – following series of brutal crimes linked to illegal drug use.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday doused fears of government critics on the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year. 

AFP chief of staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, at a press conference, cited the performance of the military during the last seven months when martial law was implemented in the region.
He stressed the 125,000-strong AFP has proved itself worthy of the public trust in implementing military rule.
“I think we have proved ourselves worthy of the people’s trust, we have always been professional in our conduct, we have always exerted efforts to make sure that we are accountable and responsible for our actions,” said Guerrero.
“Clearly, from the time it (martial law) was declared up to the time it was extended, up to now, we have seen that the AFP has been faithful and committed in its performance of its mandates especially in the protection of human rights, the observance of law and the commitment to ensure peace and security in our communities,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23 when Islamic State-inspired terrorists, led by Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers, laid siege on Marawi City.
The Commander-in-Chief asked for an extension after the declaration expired last July and was given by Congress until December 31 this year.
Early this week, Mr. Duterte, upon the recommendation of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP), requested for another extension, this time for the whole 2018. Congress again approved the extension.
This was followed by concerns from various sectors on the possibility of placing the entire country under martial law, noting the basis of the one-year extension was the atrocities being committed by the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
It will be noted that intensified NPA violations erupted after the President tagged them as terrorists.
‘Speculative’
Guerrero, however, said it is too early to talk about the expansion of martial law nationwide.
But the AFP chief maintained that the possibility of implementing martial law throughout the country depends on the actions of enemies of the state, particularly of the NPA.
“Let us not talk about martial law for the whole country because right now our only concern is the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, and even (when) the extension of martial law was already passed by Congress, we still have to work on its implementation in the coming, come next year,” he stressed.
Pressed on fears of the possible implementation of martial law in Luzon and the Visayas, the AFP chief replied: “I will not dare to venture into such topic considering, not only because it’s speculative, but because it’s too early, it’s too far in the future for me to project.”
“We can never tell for now, our projections can only extend up to what the information we have at hand, because based on the information we have at hand we need to focus first on Mindanao.”
“So as for the other parts of the country, nobody can tell. It will depend on new developments and of course it will also depend on the actions, future actions of out adversary,” Guerrero added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has earlier said a nationwide declaration of martial law is possible if the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, grows and becomes a bigger threat after the cancellation of peace talks.
The Chief Executive, however, stressed this will be the call of the military and the police.
More actions
Guerrero, meanwhile, said the AFP is expected to put up more checkpoints and conduct more patrols in Mindanao, particularly in NPA-affected areas.
“There will be less skirmishes in Marawi now that operations there have winded down but in NPA-affected areas, they can expect more actions (patrols and checkpoints from) the military, it will be more intensified (in) scope and coverage,” he stressed.
The rationale for this is to establish visibility and presence in population centers to deter the NPAs’ terrorist actions, the AFP chief added.
Aside from the communist rebels, military efforts will also focus on Sulu, Basilan, and parts of Central Mindanao where lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and their allies are known to operate.

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