PGMA visits Zambales
P2.1-M relief goods distributed in Zambales as PGMA visits typhoon victims anew
Zambales -- Amidst the gloom that blanketed residents of Botolan, Zambales when the wrath of Typhoon Kiko hit their town, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave them something to cheer about as the Chief Executive distributed relief goods amounting to some P2.1 million.
PGMA visited yesterday the TLRC compound in Barangay Taugtog, the second visit to this town this month, to distribute relief packs of rice, noodles, sardines and other basic hygiene needs to more than 1,200 families or around 5,000 individuals.
TLRC, which house some 1,200 evacuees, is one the six remaining evacuation centers out of the total 13 centers opened during the height of flooding last August 6, 2009.
Flash floods swept Barangays San Juan, Paudpod, Batonlapoc, Carael, Paco, San Miguel, Tampo, Beneg, Capayawan and Bangan 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.
As of the latest report issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office III, a total of P19.7 million assistance from all concerned agencies, LGUs and NGOs have already been extended.
Carael Highway now passable
Joining the President were Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Chief Glen Rabonsa and Subic-Clark Alliance for Development and Luzon Urban Beltway Champion Secretary Eduardo Pamintuan.
They were received by Governor Amor Deloso, Vice Governor Ann Marie Gordon, and Botolan Mayor Rogelio Yap.
President Arroyo also inaugurated the newly-constructed 60-meter steel bridge crossing the new river along the Carael Highway linking anew Northern Zambales to the southern towns including Subic and Olongapo. Travel to the Northern part of the province had to be made through Pangasinan after Typhoon Kiko swept Botolan.
PGMA gave strict instructions to DPWH officials during her first visit to the town (August 10) to finish the bridge in three weeks. DPWH Engineers responded swiftly, finishing the bridge in just 2 weeks.
Innovative but risky means to cross the raging river such as riding a motorized banca were introduced to mostly residents of nearby southern town while the highway was impassable.
The journey required a 3-kilometer tricycle ride from the highway near the Bucao River to the inner western portion of Barangay Carael, the boat ride that take passengers some 2 minutes to cross the new river and headed towards Barangay Bangan of the same town and another 3 to 4 kilometers of tricycle ride going to the nearest town of Iba.
The two tricycle rides cost passengers P40 each while the boat ride cost 30 pesos. Discounts were given to senior citizens and students.
A footbridge made of wood and galvanized iron tubes that lessened travel and expenses was constructed a week before the completion of the steel bridge.
Rehabilitation costly but recommended. Both the DSWD Field Office III and the Governor's Office through the Provincial Social Welfare & Development Office and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, which Gov. Deloso head, recommended rehabilitation plans for the town that include housing units for deserving victims (P1.10M from DSWD estimate); immediate repair of roads and bridges (P10.4M from PDCC estimate); dike rehabilitation and reconstruction (P205M from PDCC estimate); rehabilitation of schools (P29M, PDCC estimate); and construction barangay health units, day care centers and centers for the elderly (P1.5M, DSWD estimate).
"We badly need the help of the Office of the President on this costly undertaking but I am confident Madame President Gloria will oblige. She has a heart for the poor and needy, as shown in her visits to this town," Governor Deloso said in an interview shortly after PGMA left the TLRC compound.
"Ngayon pa lang, in behalf of my fellow Zambaleños, I am extending my heartfelt gratitude to President Arroyo," the Governor added. (by Allen Villa PIA-Zambales)