Duterte visits Auring-hit areas, gives officials a week to address needs of storm victims

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte has given government officials one week to submit a full assessment report on the impact of 'Auring', as well as a response plan for affected areas.

"You have one week to do it, all of you. Kung may kulang [If there's something lacking], if there's anything to be fixed, do it, come back here," Duterte told Cabinet members and other officials present at Tuesday's media briefing in storm-hit Surigao del Sur.

Duterte's order came after Usec. Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said the agency is now in the process of completing its typhoon impact assessment.

"That will include already the identified interventions for the areas and populace affected," he said.

Jalad and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado also told the President there are enough funds to address the victims' needs.

"It's just a matter of procuring the needed supplies," Jalad said. "DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) still has stocks and we will continue to provide the needed services assessed by the various national government agencies here as necessary for the augmentation of the local government units."

In his report, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said food packs have already been prepositioned for affected families, with more arriving on Wednesday. He added that financial aid will also be distributed to affected residents. Over 3,600 families are set to receive ₱3,000 each. Those whose houses were partially damaged will receive ₱15,000 while those whose homes were totally destroyed will get ₱30,000.

Bautista said currently available supplies are seen to last for a week, but these could be augmented should the need arise.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, said some 1,000 small businesses were affected by the typhoon. He said the Department of Industry is ready to extend assistance in the form of loans or livelihood support funds a week from now, after it completes its assessment of the situation.

Surigao del Sur will also be provided with ₱230-million worth of agricultural interventions, according to Agriculture chief William Dar.

In a video shared by Senator Bong Go before the briefing, he and the President were seen on board a helicopter as they conducted an aerial inspection of affected areas in Surigao del Sur.

Go said there was a briefing, but no details have been released as of publishing.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier announced in his government briefing that Duterte would fly to certain areas in Caraga and bring some Cabinet members with him should the weather allow it.

"Ngayong araw, nakatakdang bisitahin ni Pangulong Duterte ang mga nasalantang lugar para makita first hand ang damage na dulot nito," he said.

[Translation: Today, President Duterte is scheduled to visit the affected areas so he can see first hand the damage brought by the weather system.]

He added: "With weather permitting, the President intends to visit and bring with him some Cabinet members para mabilis din yung aksyon pag may nakita siyang mga gaps o mga kailangan pang gawin (so that they could also fast-track their efforts in case he sees gaps or other things that need to be done) over and above what is already being done by government."

Nograles said rescue operation, relief efforts, and financial assistance are being provided to assist the storm-hit victims.

Disaster officials reported that at least one person died and two others are missing in Caraga, which was lashed by Auring before it dissipated on Tuesday.

READ: Auring leaves 1 dead, 2 missing in Caraga 

Auring, the first tropical cyclone to hit the country this year, had flooded numerous areas in Caraga including Surigao del Sur over the weekend, prompting tens of thousands of affected residents to seek refuge in shelters.

It made landfall over Batag Island in Northern Samar as a tropical depression on Monday, but it further weakened into a low pressure area a few hours after.

The NDRRMC said at least 31,884 families from various regions in Visayas and Mindanao were affected by Auring, while 18,996 underwent preemptive evacuation. Caraga was hit the hardest, with over 31,292 families affected by the typhoon.