PGMA visits Zambales to check on victims of typhoon
Iba, Zambales -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cut short her scheduled six-event visit to Guagua, Pampanga yesterday and flew via the Presidential Chopper to Botolan in Zambales to check on the victims ravaged by typhoon Kiko, pledging to fast track rehabilitation and relief operations in the area.
Flash floods swept Barangays San Juan, Paudpod, Batonlapoc, Carael, Paco, San Miguel, Tampo, Beneg, Capayawan and Bangan in Botolan town when the one-kilometer portion of a dike along the Bucao River collapsed due to heavy rains brought about by "Kiko."
The incident effectively isolated five northern towns of this province as strong currents from the river sought a new path destroying a portion of the national highway along Barangay Carael.
Joining the President were Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane and National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Chief Glen Rabonsa.
They were received by Governor Amor Deloso, Zambales 2nd District Congressman Antonio Diaz, Philippine Merchant Marine Academy President Admiral Fidel Diñoso, Philippine Army 7th ID Gen. Ralph Villanueva, Philippine National Police (PNP) Provincial Director Col. Rolando Felix and Botolan Mayor Rogelio Yap.
In a dialogue with evacuees in Upper San Juan Evacuation Center, PGMA assured them that the national government will closely coordinate with Gov. Deloso in providing some 10,000 victims with alternative housing as their original houses were either totally swept away by floodwaters or are standing but were half or totally buried by mud and sand.
The President also instructed Secretaries Teodoro, Ebdane and Rabonsa to work together to speed up rehabilitation of the damaged dike along Bucao River and the construction of a temporary bridge along the national highway in Carael to connect North and South Zambales.
Meanwhile, Gov. Deloso reported that around P175 Million would be needed to repair the collapsed dike.
He added that the DPWH has already released an initial amount of P5 Million to put up a footbridge and rechanneling of the river that crossed the national highway in Carael.
"Meron initial P3 Million calamity fund na kami na nakalaan sa basic needs ng mga evacuees. We certainly need our friends in the national government to help us in providing them with permanent shelters and lands as the effect of this disaster is truly massive." (PIA)