PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday thumbed down proposals to place the country under a state of calamity for a year after Tropical Storm Nalgae, locally named Paeng, affected many areas and killed almost a hundred people, noting that damage from the storm were highly localized.
Speaking to reporters after a situation briefing, Mr. Marcos said he found that a nationwide state of calamity was unnecessary after consulting with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the matter.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. I came to that conclusion in consultation with DENR,” he said. “They said it’s not extensive… the damage is highly localized.”
Mr. Marcos said “there’s no need for a national calamity” for the regions of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley in the north as well as parts of the Visayas in the central part of the archipelago.
Local governments are authorized under the law to declare a state of calamity within their jurisdictions. Such declarations serve as basis for the release of special disaster response funds.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” the President said. “I think we will focus better if we stay with the calamity status that we have now.”
The Bangsamoro region, three provinces, and 158 cities and municipalities have declared a state of calamity, based on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) monitoring report as of Monday.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a reminder that an automatic price freeze takes effect for 60 days in areas under a state of calamity.
“For areas under a state of calamity, a price freeze on basic necessities is in effect. We will continue to monitor and provide feedback on possible concerns,” Trade Undersecretary Ana Carolina P. Sanchez said in a Viber message to reporters on Monday.
Basic necessities under the DTI’s jurisdiction include canned fish, locally made instant noodles, bottled water, bread, processed milk, coffee, candles, laundry soap, detergent, and salt.
Other government agencies such as the Agriculture department is in charge of monitoring prices on farm and marine products, while the Health department monitors the prices of drugs deemed as essential.
The death toll from the typhoon has hit 98, of which 58 have been confirmed, according to the NDRRMC report.
Of the validated deaths, 53 were from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and two from the Soccsksargen region in the country’s south, areas which were not directly in the typhoon’s path but had been inundated by rain in recent weeks.
Three other verified deaths were from Western Visayas in central Philippines.
The NDRRMC said 69 people were reported to have been injured, while 63 were missing.
The typhoon, which was set to leave the Philippine area on Monday afternoon or evening, affected 590,990 families or 1.95 million people in 17 regions, the disaster council said.
Western Visayas topped the list with 217,000 affected families, followed by BARMM with more than 177,000, and Soccsksargen with over 42,000.
More than 105,000 people had been evacuated, it added.
The storm has affected 4,188 houses, 3,499 of which were partially damaged while 689 were totally destroyed.
Many businesses incurred additional losses after the typhoon led to power disruptions, which forced some establishments to use fossil fuel generators to continue their operations amid the storm.
NDRRMC said brownouts had been experienced in 263 cities and municipalities, while water supply was disrupted in eight areas.
Damage in the agriculture sector increased to P1.33 billion from an initial report of P49.54 million, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
A total of 53,849 farmers and fishers, and 64,607 hectares of agricultural areas were affected, based on the DA’s report as of Monday afternoon.
Agricultural losses and damage have been reported in the regions of Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Soccsksargen.
“Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops and fisheries. Damage has also been incurred in agricultural facilities. These values are subject to validation,” the bulletin said.
The DA said affected farmers can avail of assistance such as rice, corn, and assorted vegetable seeds, and drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is also extending aid to fisherfolk.
Meanwhile, a new tropical storm named Queenie was spotted 815 kilometers east of northeastern Mindanao, packing maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 80 kph, PAGASA said in an 11:00 a.m. bulletin on Monday.
“Queenie is unlikely to directly affect the country until Tuesday,” PAGASA said. “However, light to moderate with at times heavy rains [are] possible over Caraga, Eastern Visayas, and Bicol Region beginning Wednesday.”
Wind signals might be raised over the eastern portion of Caraga region in the country’s south and in some areas in Eastern Visayas on Tuesday evening.
Queenie was expected to further intensify. It could weaken by Tuesday evening or Wednesday.
It might lose the characteristics of a tropical cyclone by Friday while approaching Caraga or Eastern Visayas, PAGASA said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave