FINANCIAL AID. Senator Imee Marcos (with red face mask) hands over PHP5,000 financial assistance to one of the victims of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng on Friday (Nov. 4, 2022) at the evacuation center in Barangay Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City. In an interview, Marcos reiterated the need to create an agency for disaster preparedness and faster response. (PNA photo by Teofilo P. Garcia Jr.)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Senator Imee Marcos on Friday reiterated the need for the national government to create a disaster management agency.

Marcos said the proposed disaster management agency should be patterned after the United States’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose primary purpose is for disaster preparedness and response.

“I have been proposing for the longest time to create an agency like FEMA,” Marcos said in an interview Friday here.

Marcos noted that the process of disaster response through coordination by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) “is too slow.”

Marcos said that “it's been a week now when the storm hit Zamboanga City last Friday and yet help is still not enough.” The affected families are still in evacuation centers.

“There should be an agency for disaster preparedness and response,” she said.

To save costs, she said the disaster preparedness and response agency to be created can be placed under the Office of the President.

Marcos was here Friday as she facilitated the release of financial assistance to families displaced and farmers affected by the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng.

“I brought with me some PHP15 million funds for AICS (Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation),” she said.

Riduan Hadjimuddin, Department of Social Welfare and Development-9 (DSWD-9) director, said in a separate interview that initially, 200 families whose houses were destroyed have received PHP5,000 each or for a total of PHP1 million.

“The next payout will be next week,” Hadjimuddin said.

One of the PHP5,000 aid recipients, Jonathan Uyangorren, a vegetable vendor from Barangay Tugbungan, said he will use the money to buy lumber to rebuild his house that was washed away by flashflood.

Another recipient of the financial assistance, Richard Sienes, a pedicab driver from Barangay Sta. Maria, said he will buy lumber to reconstruct the footbridge leading to his house that was damaged by the flood.

Cotabato assistance

Marcos proceeded to Barangay Bulucaon in Pigcawayan, Cotabato for the distribution of PHP20 million worth of AICS.

"Meron na tayong listahan sa DSWD ng iba't ibang mga recipient. Unahin natin 'yung mga tinamaan ng bagyo at ng baha, at nawalan ng trabaho, nawalan ng, higit sa lahat, ani, nawalan pati ng bahay (We already have a list of recipients from the DSWD. Let us prioritize those who were affected by the typhoon and floods, those who lost their jobs, harvest, and homes)," she told the evacuees

Each household of the 69 destroyed and 262 damaged houses in the village received PHP10,000

Aleosan, Midsayap, Libungan, Kabacan, Pigcawayan, and Carmen will receive PHP5 million to help replenish their damaged crops

"Para mabilis ang recovery kasi nasira na ‘yung tanim. Kung sino ang may gusto, maglista tayo ng pang-kambing, mga biik, and then may itik. Kung gusto ninyong i-request ‘yun (For faster recovery after the crops were destroyed. Whoever wants may request, we will give you goats, piglets, and native ducks)," she said.

Marcos also pledged to request the Department of Labor and Employment to implement the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program in the flooded communities.

Cotabato City, the seat of government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, had the most flood-affected individuals at 337,980 from 67,596 households, according to a report of MindaNews.

She praised the local government units for their disaster response that resulted in zero casualties.

"Congratulations at very good ang disaster response kahit papaano. Kahit may ibang nasaktan na mga matatanda, ibang nadamay na mga bahay (and your disaster response is very good. Even if some elders were hurt, some houses damaged), we are all here together," Marcos said.

She ended her message by thanking the people of Cotabato for supporting his brother, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and Vice President Sara Duterte during the elections.

Pigcawayan, located at the boundary of Maguindanao, is among the towns in Cotabato that mainly relies on rice fields. (PNA)