By MATTHEW PIRANTE-PEREZ
MANILA – Citizens took to social media to express their disgust over Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s absence the past three days in areas hardest hit by tropical storm Paeng (international name: Naelgae), and the slashed budget for disaster response.
Using the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo, social media users noted that Marcos Jr. presided over the October 29 emergency council meeting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) via video conferencing app Zoom.
During the meeting, Marcos said the government could have done better in disaster preparation in Maguindanao for tropical storm Paeng. He cited that the tally of deaths and missing person cases “are a little too high”, earning the ire of netizens.
A Twitter user said:
“Stop deflecting blame. Ur govt cut the flood budget by 32%, from 84.4M in 2022 to only 57.12M for 2023. Weather and climate forecasting & warning budget, cut by 22%. Ang marcos govt ang problema, hindi ang flood forecasting. #PaengPH”.
Stop deflecting blame. Ur govt cut the flood forecasting budget by 32%, from 84.4M in 2022 to only 57.12M for 2023. Weather & climate forecasting & warning budget, cut by 22%.
Ang Marcos govt ang problema, hindi ang flood forecasting. #PaengPH
— Manang #RejectMarcosDuterte #EndClimateImperialism (@manang_aa) October 29, 2022
Another Twitter user said:
“Typhoons are inevitable. The disasters they bring, however, are avoidable. PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) raised alarms two days ago. Marcos was notably absent from these briefings, and has not made any public announcements then. It’s the government incompetence that kills people. #NasaanAngPangulo.”
Typhoons are inevitable. The disasters they bring, however, are avoidable.
PAG-ASA raised alarms two days ago. Marcos was notably absent from these briefings, and has not made any public announcement then.
It’s the government incompetence that kills people.#NasaanAngPangulo
— Carwyn San Luis Candila (@Carwyn_Candila) October 29, 2022
In a statement, scientists group AGHAM lambasted Marcos for being a hypocrite.
“Long before the Paeng Typhoon disaster, the government knew that our Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) needed significant improvement. With the increasing threats of climate change President Marcos Jr. said that this is included in his top priorities. Yet he cuts the budget on departments that address this issue, we are slapped on our face by the inutility of this regime to increase their intelligence and confidential funds,” AGHAM said.
AGHAM pointed out that the P1.6 billion (US$27.57 million) approved budget for PAGASA weather forecasting is way below the agency’s budget request of P3.048 billion (US$52.52 million). For 2023, the Department of Science and Technology budget is P24.06 billion (US$414.60 million), or nearly half of the agency’s request at P44.17 billion (US$761.14 million).
There had also been speculations that the president was out of the country. The Palace has denied that Marcos Jr. was in Japan. On Oct. 30, photos of him in an eatery in Laoag, Ilocos Norte circulated on social media. Today, photos of Marcos Jr. distributing relief goods in Cavite were posted on social media.
As of October 31, the NDRRMC has reported 98 dead, 69 injured, and 63 others declared missing. The infrastructure damage has clocked in at P757.84 million (US$13.06 million) while the damage to agriculture has been estimated at P435.46 million (US$7.5 million) nationwide.
Maguindanao has the highest number of fatalities at 67. Of this, 50 were brought on by landslides in Datu Odin Sinsuat, 10 from Datu Blah Sinsuat, and seven from Upi. Six are still missing in Datu Blah Sinsuat, and 5 in Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Meanwhile, the whole province of Aklan and one town in Capiz have declared a state of calamity following the massive devastation caused by the storm. The declaration allows the local governments to utilize the reserved funds to give aid to the storm ravaged communities.
The provincial board has granted Gov. Jose Enrique Miraflores’ request to declare a state of calamity last Friday, October 28, according to Aklan PDRRMO chief Galo Ibardolaza.
However, no figure has been disclosed as far as how much Quick Response Fund will be used.
The AKLAN PDRRMO data showed 43,303 families or 193,167 persons affected by the storm. Six deaths have been reported in the province, five from Libacao, and one in Batan. The five fatalies were brought on by landslides while the sole fatality from Batan died from electrocution.