DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (File photo)

MANILA – The funds for the cash assistance to local government units affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Odette are expected to be released starting Tuesday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Monday night.

Speaking to President Rodrigo Duterte during his pre-recorded Talk to the People, Año said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Department of National Defense met on December 24 and came up with a Joint Memorandum Circular that will serve as guide for the distribution of cash aid worth around PHP4 billion.

He, meanwhile, assured Duterte that the aid will reach its intended beneficiaries.

At sisiguraduhin po namin, Mr. President, na ito (ayuda) ay makakarating sa ating mga kababayan. Mayroon din po tayong grievance mechanism and monitoring para kung saan puwedeng magreklamo po ‘yung mga kababayan na hindi makakatanggap (We will assure Mr. President that this will reach our countrymen. We also have a grievance mechanism and monitoring system where the recipients who fail to get their share can course their complaints),’’ Año told the President.

Duterte earlier tasked the DILG to supervise the distribution of cash aid in urban centers while the military was tasked to manage aid distribution in hard-to-reach areas.

Año also vowed that the funds for the cash aid will be fully accounted for and warned charges against those committing abusive and corrupt acts.

“So sa amin pong estimate po ay within the week po makapagsisimula tayong magbigay ng cash assistance at tatapusin namin ito ng hindi po aabot ng 15 araw (So in our estimate, the cash assistance distribution will start this week and will be finished before 15 days),’’ Año said.

From day one of the typhoon or even before the onset of the weather disturbance, Año noted that the uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine Coast Guard have started the rescue operations.

Ang atin pong PNP, aside sa mga territorial forces ay mayroon pong 4,000 PNP personnel para sa search and rescue at reactionary standby support force (Our PNP aside from the territorial forces have 4,000 PNP personnel for the search and rescue and reactionary standby support force),’’ he said.

The DILG chief said 10,500 BFP personnel were on hand along with the deployment of fire trucks, rescue trucks and other equipment needed for the clearing operations while medical assistance, water rationing duties, clearing operation tasks and operation of open kitchens and conduct of feeding programs were provided by the bureau in the hard-hit areas.

Ang ating Philippine National Police naman rin po in partnership with the AFP ay nagko-conduct ng Christmas Drop 2021 hanggang matapos po ang buwan na ito (Our PNP will also in partnership with the AFP are conducting a Christmas Drop 2021 up to the end of this month),’’ Año said.

He said a total of 4.2 million individuals were affected by “Odette” as almost 570,000 of them are now sheltered in the 1,179 evacuation centers.

Año reported that the government’s operation is now focused on the six regions, 14 provinces and 222 cities and municipalities severely affected by the typhoon.

He noted that these priority areas were provided with the appropriate responses specifically and handing out of the government assistance to the distressed families.

At makikita po natin sa mga ibang related incidents na dala po ng bagyo, mayroon pa pong 21 flooded areas, mayroon pa pong mga tulay at kalsada na sira, at mga seaports at airports na hindi pa po nagiging functional (We can see that in these related incidents brought by the typhoon, there are still 21 flooded areas, damaged bridge and roads and seaports and airports that remain unfunctional),’’ Año said.

No looting reports yet

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Col. Roderick Alba said they have yet to receive reports of looting particularly in the areas severely hit by Typhoon Odette.

“Actually nakarating sa amin yung information na yan but unfortunately until today wala tayong na-receive until today officially na dumulog sa ating mga police stations particularly sa area ng Bohol and parts I think in Siargao (such information reached us but unfortunately, we have not received until today any official reports in our police stations, particularly in the area of Bohol and parts of Siargao),” Alba said in a Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

He said the government has been working to reach out to all affected residents at the soonest possible time to give them relief goods or assistance.

Ngayon sa instruction ng ating Pangulo kami naman ay alam namin na maging positive ang epekto nung ayuda na binibigay ng ating national government that could address itong sinasabi nating looting incidents but of course kami naman po we are vigilant. Kung meron man nangailangan ng tulong, kung meron mag-resort to criminality ay nag antabay lang ang ating kapulisan (Taking it from the instructions of the President, we are hopeful that the aid given by the national government will address these so-called looting incidents but of course, we remain vigilant. If somebody needs help or there are those who will resort to criminality, our police officers are ready to respond),” he said.

He also said PNP units are awaiting further instructions and coordination with concerned government agencies for the smooth implementation of cash aid for typhoon victims. (PNA)