Monday, 28 September 2009

PGMA Message on typhoon Ondoy's Relief and Rehabilitation Management

Arroyo opens Palace for ‘Ondoy’ operations
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Christian Esguerra

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has opened Malacañang as emergency center for victims of tropical storm “Ondoy,” officials announced.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Palace grounds would accommodate victims from among Palace employees and those living in nearby areas.

The President will move out of her official residence and stay at the nearby Bahay Pangarap to accommodate the victims, according to Ermita.

Earlier in the day, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President ordered the use of a portion of the Palace grounds to centralize efforts by various government agencies and volunteer organizations.

The members of the First family are prepared to temporarily leave the Palace grounds if needed to give space to the relief work, Remonde said in a live interview aired over radio dzBB Monday.

“The President has allowed the use of Malacanang itself, her won home to be a center of relief operations,” Remonde said.

In a separate radio interview, Lorelei Fajardo, deputy spokesperson, said the emergency center would be at Heroes Hall.

Arroyo is expected to call heads of government agencies in a meeting within the day, Remonde added.

He said Oplan Sagip Bayan has also been mobilized and would work with media agencies, civic groups and other organizations involved in helping Ondoy victims.

Ermita and Remonde said they were asked to make the announcement by the President, who was still presiding over a meeting with heads of government agencies involved in the emergency operations.

Remonde, who was also present at the Palace press briefing, acknowledged that opening Malacañang to the public could pose “security nightmare,” adding that this was the first time this was used as emergency relief center.

“It will be [a security nightmare], but despite that we would like to think that the welfare, the lives and the salvation of our people is more important . . . the President is willing to take that risk,” Remonde said.

Ermita said that funds for relief operations would initially come from the miscellaneous funds of the Office of the President.

“Definitely, we have something to start with,” he added, without stating the amount.

Ermita said members of the Presidential Security Group have been instructed to make the necessary adjustments on security arrangements and “not to frisk anybody” who would want to enter the grounds and seek assistance.

Remonde said Oplan Sagip Bayan has also been mobilized and would work with media agencies, civic groups and other organizations involved in helping Ondoy victims.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by Donald Dee said it was mobilizing all its chapters for donations to be sent to Malacañang.

About 100 were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes when floodwaters brought by Ondoy’s rains submerged most parts of Metro Manila over the weekend.

Many families have remained on their rooftop and some trapped in their homes since Saturday particularly in Marikina, Cainta in Rizal and in Quezon City, due to the sudden deluge of water.

Metro Manila and 25 other areas have been placed on state of calamity.

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