Press Briefing by Secretary Ramon A. Carandang, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, DOST Undersecretary Yumul, and PAGASA Director Servando on February 2, 2011

Press Briefing by Presidential Communications Secretary Ramon A. Carandang, DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman, Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul and PAGASA Director Nathaniel Servando:

An update on the situation in the Caraga Region and DSWD aid to the people affected by the flooding; on the effects of climate change in the Philippines, and other topics

Briefing Room, 2/F New Executive Building, Malacañang, Manila

February 2, 2011; 11:30 hrs. EST

SECRETARY RAMON A. CARANDANG: Good morning, Marie. Good morning Malacañang Press Corps.

Secretary Lacierda is preparing for the trip this afternoon with the President. Undersecretary Valte is ill, so I’m doing the briefing today. Secretary Coloma is in a congressional hearing, so you’re stuck with me.

Anyway, as you’ve heard, Secretary Soliman is here and Usec. Yumul. We want to call some attention to the rains that have been going on for the last several days in the Caraga Region. I spoke this morning to the Mayor of Butuan. And, he reports that Butuan City is 90 [percent] underwater or is flooded—90 percent of it is flooded. And, there are, so far, 2,000 families have been evacuated. So, we felt that this was a good time to bring the public attention to what’s being done there. And, I would begin with Undersecretary Yumul, who will give us an update on the weather situation.

UNDERSECRETARY GRACIANO YUMUL: Administrator Nathaniel Servando will be the one to present the weather updates.

DIRECTOR NATHANIEL SERVANDO: Good morning everyone. DOST-PAGASA will give you the current weather situation particularly in the flood-affected areas. So far, this is the current situation. Out of 51 PAGASA field stations, 46 of them have recorded and received more than normal rainfall for the month of January. In fact, some of them received more than 1,000 millimeters of rain. Like for example, in the Caraga Region, Surigao City, in particular, received almost 300 percent of the normal rain. Hinatuan City, 1,608 millimeters over a month period; this is more than 200 percent. Catarman, also, in Eastern Samar, received almost 350 percent. Catbalogan in Eastern Samar—490 percent.

[refers to the PowerPoint presentation]

This is the rainfall map for the month of January 2011. On the left side, this is actually the total rains received for the month. And, on the right side is the percentage of the rain compared to the 30-year average rainfall for the month. And, you can see most areas in the country received so much precipitation particularly in the eastern section or the eastern seaboard of the country.

And, for the last two days, yesterday and today, we have identified a number of stations particularly in Caraga that have received so much precipitation. Surigao, in particular, [on] January 31, received 247 millimeters of rain, and, for today, it’s 271 millimeters of rain. Butuan City—207 millimeters of rain, and 75.6 for today. Hinatuan, 341 yesterday, and 196.6 millimeters of rain. And according to scale, rainfall above 180 millimeters of rain are considered heavy already.

Next slide please.

And, this is the observed precipitation for the month in some selected provinces noting the percentage of the average rainfall for the month. And, many cities, provinces actually received so much precipitation.

This [refers to the PowerPoint presentation] is the rainfall map for January 31 during the last two days. You can see the areas where heavy precipitations are concentrating particularly in the Caraga Region and in some areas in Eastern Visayas.

Next slide please.

This [refers to the PowerPoint presentation] is the current satellite image showing the cloud band that covers the areas affected: flooded-affected areas particularly the Caraga, the northeastern part of Mindanao and some areas in Eastern Visayas particularly Southern Leyte, Leyte, Bohol and some areas in Northern Cebu.

And so far, based on our reports, based from the data we gathered from the Office of Civil Defense and verified by our field personnel, there are municipalities in the Caraga Region that are affected by floods. For example, Agusan del Norte, four municipalities; Agusan Del Sur, four municipalities are affected; Surigao Del Sur, five municipalities are affected; and Surigao Del Norte, nine municipalities.

Next slide please.

That’s all. And, Usec. Yumul will add a few words on our PowerPoint.

YUMUL: Yeah, except for Palawan, from Thursday to Saturday, the weather in the Philippines will be generally clear. So, we expect that things will be better for Visayas and Mindanao. But, that does not mean that the problem of Caraga would actually be finished for the simple reason that rainfall that had fell on the watershed of Caraga is just beginning to go down. So, recession of flooding is not expected in the immediate future. So, we expect that we really have to make sure that we monitor the flooding and landslide situation in Caraga.

Although the government right now is extending immediate assistance to Caraga, the national government is making sure that we are monitoring Samar, specifically Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Bohol and Camiguin for the simple reason that these are the areas that have received so much rainfall, and most of their rivers are already swollen.

Now, with respect to Palawan—Palawan will have extremely bad weather [on] Thursday [and] Friday—for the simple reason that the low pressure area would actually be above Palawan. And, we’re talking here of Central Northern Palawan.

We would like to take this opportunity to actually extend our appreciation and gratitude to the local government units for the simple reason that the NDRRMC had given the warning about the LPA starting Saturday. And, everybody has actually done their job for the simple reason that we can see right now that we were able to evacuate people to safe grounds.

Thank you.

CARANDANG: Alright, Secretary Soliman will talk about the specifics of the kind of relief that we are providing for people who have been affected by the storms.

SECRETARY CORAZON SOLIMAN: First on Caraga. As we speak, the mayor has convened a meeting at Orios Gym at ten o’clock. And, this meeting is ongoing. And, as reported, there is flooding going on in most of Butuan, and therefore, an evacuation has been undertaken. And there are, as of now, 22 evacuation centers in Butuan City itself, and ongoing relief has been provided by the 22 evacuation centers. And, relief is being given by both the local government unit… And, we have augmented by way of food relief packs and used clothing. We also have alerted Regions 10 and 11, because there is a request for augmentation for used clothing. Because of the rains, the evacuees have no more dry clothes with them. And therefore, we are also alerting 10 and 11 that the prepositioned packs of used clothing be made available for Caraga as we prepare for the shipment of, at least, ten bales from our national warehouse.

The OIC now, the undersecretary for GASSG is here, Usec. Mat Montaño who can give you more details on the specifics if you want.

But, I also wanted to say that in addition to Butuan, to just give the names of the towns affected in the different provinces in Caraga: for Agusan Del Sur, it is Talacogon and Bayugan. And in Talacogon, we have six barangays affected with 848 families that translate to 5,000 individuals. And, the other town is Bayugan, which are Salvacion and Sta Teresita barangays, which again has an evacuation center in Salvacion.

Again, roughly it’s about 400 to 500 families. In Agusan Del Norte, this is in Butuan City and Buenavista. These are the two areas that have been affected.

Surigao Del Norte, all 14 municipalities are experiencing severe flooding, with Mainit as the most affected. We have been in touch with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, and we have been supporting them and augmenting their needs. In Surigao Del Sur, you have Lianga, Barobo, Tagbina, Bislig City, Hinatuan, and Lingig. These are the towns that are affected by the flooding. Sorry, Tago and Lanusa in San Miguel are also added and San Agustin.

These are the areas affected in Caraga. And, as I said, we continue to provide augmentation by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. I just want to flag that, as we focus on our report on Caraga. That, as of today, we continue to serve: in 4B, one province; in five/four provinces in Region 6, one; Region 7, one; Region 8; five; Region 10, one, and; Region 11, four. These are still the affected areas of continuous rains. And, the total number of affected families plus Caraga would be at the level of 292,363 families. And, that translates to about 1.4 million individuals. And so far, the cost of assistance that we have been giving since this started from December 29, the cost of assistance of DSWD has been 10.5 million. The combined resources of the local government units is 24 million and NGOs and other government agencies is 867,000 which total to about 35.7 million already in terms of assistance in the form of food relief packs, hot meals, mats, used clothing and the delivery of all of these items. We continue to have prepositioned items and funds. In Caraga, the total prepositioned standby funds that we have there is 803,000 pesos and stockpiles in terms of family packs, food and non-food. So, we have a total 4.8 million that’s on standby. In Region 8, we have a total of 1.050 million. And, for Region 11, we have 1.068 million. A total of 7.017 is on standby for use immediately.

However, we already are preparing for augmentation in Caraga. We will be adding three million to download within the next two days because we expect—as PAGASA is telling us—continuous rain. And, the PDRRMC of the four provinces have indicated that they would need augmentation from us.

Q: Ma’am, are these areas already declared as calamity areas?

SOLIMAN: Mayor Amante has declared Butuan City in a state of calamity, as I understand, this morning. Governor Matugas had declared Surigao Del Norte in a state of calamity, I think, about two days ago. So, those are the two provinces that I know have declared their areas in a state of calamity.

Q: For Mr. Yumul or Mr. Servando. Normally, what is the average rainfall? Is this the 1000 millimeter that you mentioned earlier? So, what is the average rainfall, and until when can we expect the above average rainfall to extend, and what particular areas will be affected?

YUMUL: Okay, when you start looking at the numbers, you have to deal with it on a per station basis. Like for example in the numbers of Surigao City, it’s 300 percent. So, what it means is that if the normal rainfall for January would actually be 20 millimeters, then you are actually seeing around 60 millimeters this month. So, that is the reason why you would have around 300 percent. But, what is really a little bit dangerous is for the simple reason that we’re seeing a thousand millimeters of rainfall for several areas. And again, as we have explained before, we believe that this is really due to La Niña. And, if you want it extended, we are really collaborating this with regards to the so-called the global warming.

Now, up to when are we going to expect this? As we have already announced, we expect a wet summer. And, in the process—the later part of this year—we expect more typhoons as compared to 2010. And, of course, they are going to be stronger. But, I think the message that we really want to impart here is that what we are having right now is a creeping disaster.

Look at what happened in November; look at what happened in December, and; look at what happened in January. And, the 35.7 million pesos that we are spending right now would actually be added to additional expenses in the near future because we expect this to be continuing. So, at the end of the day, it’s not only the people in Caraga or even Region 8 who will be suffering, but actually the whole country.

Q: Undersecretary Yumul or Director Servando. Sir, iyong expected rains because of La Niña this year, will this be a record amount of rainfall, and when do we expect these rains to come into the rice-producing areas?

SERVANDO: As explained by Dr. Yumul, we expect above normal rainfall because of the existing La Niña phenomenon which is currently attaining its peak. And, we expect the La Niña to persist until the March, April, May periods,. We have here numbers of the average rainfall on some selected stations. For example, in Surigao City, we received 1,800 millimeters for the months of June, but the 30-year average is only 600. So, it’s about triple, or 300 percent. In Hinatuan for example, the recorded rainfall is 1,600 millimeters, but the 30-year average rainfall in that area is 728 mm or more than 220 percent. So, the eastern seaboard right now is receiving so much precipitation and is over above normal. It’s because during this season, during January [and] February, until the first week of March, it’s really rainy season in that area. But, because of this La Niña phenomenon, these areas are receiving so much precipitation. And then later, towards summer, although the average rainfall is projected to be above normal, but it may shift to other areas.

Q: Sir, iyong 300 percent increase in rainfall, is that parang an average—a national average, sir, of all your stations?

SERVANDO: For that particular place.

Q: For January lang iyon, sir.

SERVANDO: That’s right.

Q: Sir, do we expect this to increase coming into the middle of the year?

SERVANDO: Yeah, it will continue, expected to continue up to March.

Q: I mean, iyon pong amount of rainfall, so from triple, the 30-year average, puwede pa siyang tumaas coming into February, March and the later months?

SERVANDO: Yes, we expect this month, February to continue, because of the prevailing weather systems like the Amihan—we call it northeast monsoon—and the tail end of a cold front to persist until March. So, we expect in the coming two months the rains to continue.

Q: Sir, ito ba iyong highest ever recorded na amount of rainfall?

SERVANDO: Yeah, so far in these areas, for example in Butuan, and the 300 percent in Surigao City.

Q: Highest in history iyon, sir?

SERVANDO: Yes, the rainfall over a period of one month.

Q: Sir, sa Central Luzon, kailan expected iyong ganyang magnitude ng rains… and Metro Manila?

SERVANDO: Because the type of climate in Metro Manila, including some areas in the western side, is considered as type 1, normally, the rainy season. The period when they receive so much precipitation is during the months of June, July [and] August. So, we expect na mga bandang May because we expect the onset of the rainy season might come earlier because of the La Niña phenomenon. That is the time Metro Manila will receive heavy precipitation.

Q: Ma’am, Undersecretary Yumul said that this is parang a creeping disaster. How prepared is the government for iyong mga worse eventualities?

SOLIMAN: Well, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, of which DSWD is a member, has been working closely with DILG on coming out with more information with regards to prevention and preparedness. So, that is one action that we have been taking. We have also undertaken individually—agencies—how to bring out this information. So, for example, the DSWD under the Family Development Sessions Program of Pantawid Pamilya and Kalahi CIDSS which regularly meet on a monthly basis, disaster risk reduction measures are also being discussed at that level.

So, I think in terms of preparedness for this, we are taking the steps. And most of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils have been conducting on their own, using their own funds, disaster preparedness. And, I think what is a very big improvement is the way we are able to get on time, real time updates from PAGASA. They have a system where all of us who are part of NDRRMC get a regular text almost every hour on the hour if there is need. But, at least, everyday I get a text from PAGASA. And once we get that, we give it to the concerned region. So, if we know the text that we get is not just rainfall but a warning that there could be landslides or the gale wind is strong, we download that to our regions, and the regions then start working with the PDRRMCs and the MDRRMCs who need to be prepared for the eventuality.

Q: So, Ma’am, iyong mga previous experiences po na biglang nasha-shock na lang tayo with the effects just like Ondoy will not happen again?

SOLIMAN: I don’t think so. The monitoring is very, very intense because the monitoring, as DOST can explain—maybe Usec. Yumul can do that—the monitoring is not just on rain. They are also putting in gadgets that will tell us the possibility of landslides. And, the monitoring of waters in the dam and monitoring of waters in the river including Marikina River is ongoing. So, the warning is way ahead.

Q: Mr. Yumul. You mentioned that what we are having right now is a creeping disaster. So, do you expect this to culminate in the arrival of typhoons that would surpass previous destructive typhoons in terms of strength and destruction?

YUMUL: It’s always a possibility considering the fact that you are dealing with a La Niña event. And, we know for a fact that during La Niña, aside from having more typhoons, you would actually expect more intense typhoons. Yes, it’s a distinct possibility.

CARANDANG: Mia, may I just add also. If you’ve noticed now, the news around the world, these weather phenomena are happening everywhere. It’s not isolated in the Philippines. Other ASEAN countries have experienced this. Recently, there were floods in Australia in places where they really never expected that degree of flooding. So, it’s a problem that not just the Philippine government [is dealing], but all governments are dealing with around the region. And, as we said, so far we’ve had very good coordination and cooperation with the local government. There has been inter-agency coordination. And, we’ve managed to prevent these situations from getting worse because there has been a lot of effort and attention paid to preparing for these weather disturbances.

Q: Sir, just a follow up. Sir, what you said about this creeping disaster—and that you expect worse rather than we’ve had in the past—is this already inputted in this year’s growth targets?

YUMUL: I am not sure how much they have been inputted in the growth targets. I know that when the targets were being discussed, there was always the possibility of the economic impact of weather disturbances. But, weather is difficult to predict, and so it’s also difficult to predict what kind of impact this will have on the economy.

Q: Since, it’s going to be a continuing disaster –these rains and everything for the rest of the year—mayroon ba tayong mga projections like how much you might need for relief since iyon nga, it’s going to be a continuing disaster for this year?

SOLIMAN: Every year, we have an allocation [of] 25 percent of the calamity fund. We have 662 million that is already automatically allocated to DSWD as a quick response fund for disasters and all kinds of calamities. That is 25 percent of 2.6 billion which is the calamity fund that is allocated from the General Appropriations Act. The remaining of this 2.6 billion is allocated when you request NDRRMC. The chair, who is Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, then recommends—and the President—has to approve the use of the 75 percent of the 2.6 billion. The 25 percent that is automatically allocated to us is what we use for all of these types of support that we augment. Let me just also remind everyone that every local government unit at the municipal and at the provincial level has its own calamity fund, and they are able to use that in times of disaster. And, if I am not mistaken, it’s about 20 percent of their IRA. So, 20 percent of their IRA is for calamity funds. And, again, since, I think, about four or five years ago, the declaration of a state of calamity rests on the local government unit now. It does not need a national announcement. So right now, when I am asked do we have enough funds, since we have a budget that was signed in December, the budget, as I said, is with us—six hundred sixty two million (662) million. And therefore, that is what we are using for all of these needs that the eastern seaboard regions are requesting from us. Because, since December 29, we have been working with the eastern seaboard regions, as indicated by Dr. Yumul and Dr.Servando.

Q: Perhaps, have you gone as far as, parang projecting like how much it might cost the national government support, if this is, iyon nga, a continuing disaster for the entire year?

SOLIMAN: Right now, we don’t have that kind of projection, but we know that we have 662 million. What we are going to be undertaking now—and I have had discussions at our level—we need to do two things. Make sure that our pre-positioned goods are always replenished because, for example, right now, in Caraga we need to replenish because they have been experiencing this since December 29. The second is that we are working on the final plans on how to assist marginalized fishermen and marginalized farmers to use the rice subsidy that was given to DSWD, and how to apportion that over the year. Because as we were discussing with Dr. Yumul and Dr. Servando earlier, they are the most affected right now. Because unusually high waves, as we were told, are affecting the capacity of the small fishers to go out and fish. And, therefore, we hope to be ready to implement the support for small fishers and marginalized farmers by the middle of this month. Right now, we are supporting them through calamity fund by way of relief and food packs.

Q: What’s the second? You said, there were two…

SOLIMAN: The first one was to make sure that our pre-positioned funds are always replenished. And, the second is putting in place the IRR, implementing rules and guidelines, and roll it out by the middle of February the assistance to marginalized fishers and farmers.

Q: If ever, that’s the projection, and it’s quantifiable at this time since hindi ba 35 million so far sa eastern seaboard iyong relief assistance ng DSWD? You said it’s 35 million so far?

SOLIMAN: Ten million iyong DSWD, and the others is LGU. And, that’s for the whole country.

Q: For the whole country?

SOLIMAN: Yes.

Q: And, the three million will come from what? Iyong additional three million, that’s national?

SOLIMAN: That will come from our Quick Response Fund, the three million that we are going to download to Caraga.

Q: So, parang 38 for the eastern seaboard so far. Calamities in the eastern seaboard?

SOLIMAN: Yes. And, that is only for the month of January.

Q: Yes.

YUMUL: As a matter of fact, tama iyong sinabi ni Secretary, ano? You can look at it the other way around in terms of the UN study. For every dollar you spend in terms of disaster risk management, you actually save seven dollars. So, the way government is actually doing things right now, and if you go to the grassroots level at makikita niyo na things are working, you can just imagine na with all of these things na nangyari, it doesn’t mean na 2011 na hindi na natin iisipin iyong nangyari noong December. But, if you’re going to look, 35 times 7, that’s supposedly the kind of expenses that we should’ve actually spent kung wala tayong effective disaster risk management. And, that’s a UN study.

Q: For Undersecretary Yumul. Sir, Mindanao is supposed to be—what we perceive it as typhoon… and right now, we’re seeing that it’s being battered by rains, also, on a global scale, you have Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia. Sir, you said this is because of climate change. Could you elaborate a little bit more using layman’s language? And, how bad is it going to get? Do we have a short term projection?

YUMUL: As a matter of fact, the reason why we’re saying this is attributable to global warming in particular: climate change in general, is for the simple reason that one result of global warming is that you increase the amount of moisture you have in the atmosphere. You know, you evaporate most water, it goes to the atmosphere and ultimately it condenses and it precipitates as rain or snow. And, as Secretary Carandang has said, this is something that’s not only happening in the Philippines, but actually worldwide. And, although there are some skeptics that would say that this is still not yet attributable to global warming, but, at least, in the Philippines, we’re seeing that things are happening. And at the end of the day, as a matter of fact, as far as NDDRMC is concerned, it’s not really about global warming. It’s not really about disaster risk; it’s really about making sure that our people on the ground are being taken care of. Because at the end of the day, it’s about saving lives; it’s about saving properties and saving livelihoods. And, this is the reason why we’re trying to help now our fisher folk because every time we come out with a gale warning, we tell them that they should not go out fishing. And, if they don’t have any alternative livelihood that will literally kill our people. And, this is the reason why the government’s making sure that we give alternative livelihood.

Q: Sir my question on your short term projection…

YUMUL: The short term projection, as a matter of fact, is that we’re going to have a wet summer. The climatological forecast has come out. So, March, April, May [and] June would actually be wet, for the simple reason that there’s La Nina. And, of course, in terms of typhoons, it will definitely be higher than the 11 typhoons that hit the country in 2011. And, of course , with La Nina, we expect it to [be] more intense.

Q: To Usec. Yumul. Good morning, sir. Sir, you have mentioned that the government has this effective disaster risk management. Do you believe that it’s effective considering that during the recent flashfloods and landslides, we have these over 100 casualties, wherein 75 died?

YUMUL: Saan kaya iyan? Saang lugar iyan?

Q: Sir, iyan po iyong nasa report ng National Disaster Risk Reduction Management—75 fatalities during the recent flashfloods…?

YUMUL: As a matter of fact, that’s a good point. If you’re going to look at the 75 casualties reported by NDRRMC, that spans the month of December and January—so, for two months. And, if you’re going to look at it, you’re basically dealing along the eastern seaboard from Aurora all the way to Davao. Napakalaki ng lugar. Again, I’ll tell you, there’s another study in the UN that says that every time a similar disaster hits a developing country and a developed country—for a similar disaster, for every death in a developed country—there would be actually 17 to 20 people dying in a developing country. Kapag tinignan mo iyong mga developed countries ngayon, the number of people dying—and if you multiply that by 17 and 20—the 75 casualties in the Philippines would actually be far less. To be more specific, in Australia, I think they have reported at least 40 deaths, hindi ba? So, kung imu-multiply mo by 17 iyon—because Australia is a developed country and, if you’re going to look at the magnitude that happened in Australia and in the Philippines—it’s almost the same. So, if you’re going to multiply 40 by 20 na lang para madali, you expect around 800 people should’ve already died in the Philippines. But 75 people died, so ibig sabihin noon, the DRM is working. And, as a matter of fact, there is another colatilla there. If you read the reports done, most of the people who died were, unfortunately, some of the people who did not heed our warning, hindi ba? Sila iyong medyo matigas ang ulo na iyon. Iyong we keep on asking. As a matter of fact, nagsusumamo na tayo sa ating mga kababayan na sana makinig sila.

Q: So, sir, do you think there could be another way of like stringent measures na to stop them from going like fishing, or if there’s a warning na…

YUMUL: I’ll answer that off… There is a definition of a good warning. A good warning is timely and correct, then good communication which our media friends are able to really give dahil naiintindihan ng mga tao. But, the third more critical factor is actually appropriate response. So, at the end of the day, talaga iyong mga tao mismo ano kasi iyong our local government units have been doing a good job in making sure that our people are warned, that they’re evacuated. Pero, siyempre at the end of the day, hindi ba, medyo iyong tao pa rin talaga iyong magde-decide? So, ang ano natin is we really have to make sure that the culture of preparedness is ingrained in each and every Filipino. Kapag nakikita niyo iyong regional disaster texts sa Caraga, talagang sinasabi nila, “let’s make sure that we have zero casualty.”

Q: So, sir, you could categorically say that the present administration has more or better or effective disaster risk management compared to the previous administration?

YUMUL: I would not actually; I think that will be an unfair question. What I will be saying is that at the moment the disaster risk management is really working. And I think, as I said a while ago, the only way to do that is to go to the grassroots level and see how things are. And, I think we’re seeing it in Caraga. With the volume of water that they had, with all the landslides that they had, I don’t think that you would actually be hearing a lot of complaints. As a matter of fact, talagang things are working right now.

CARANDANG: First, I would like to thank Usec. Yumul, Director Servando, Secretary Dinky. Thank you also for the briefing. We’re bringing this information to you, so that you know that this global weather phenomenon is something that we can expect throughout the year, and to assure the public that we are prepared for [and] doing our best to prepare for the situation. So, thank you. I know you have an appointment, so thank you. Secretary Dinky will stay with us for a while in case there are other questions— other topics.

Q: Sir, when is the President going to announce the replacements for the two Comelec commissioners who are about to retire tomorrow?

CARANDANG: Well, they’re being evaluated. I’m not sure exactly when the President will make the announcement, but you can expect an announcement soon. There’s been some discussion already in the Palace about the replacements.

Q: Sir, has the President made his choice?

CARANDANG: I’m not sure personally if the President made his choice. We had a brief discussion about it yesterday, and I think he’s close to making a choice. He could already have made a choice, but yesterday when I spoke to him about it, he didn’t indicate to me anyway na nakapag-desisyon na siya. I could be wrong because we didn’t discuss it at length. But, it’s been subject to some discussion already within the Palace

Q: Good morning, sir. Sir, can we get updates lang po on the carnapping and sa bombing incident?

CARANDANG: Okay. With regard to the investigation on the bombing, we have designated General Nick Bartolome of NCRPO as the only spokesman to talk about the investigation. So, we will defer to General Bartolome there. With regard to what has been done for the victims of the bus bombing, Secretary Dinky is here to give us the details.

SOLIMAN: Of the five casualties of the bombing, the last person to be buried is today. And, three of the casualties were brought to provinces. Teniola was brought to Surigao, Daquiao to Laguna and Johansson delos Reyes in Batangas—Calaca. They all have been given burial, funeral and burial plots assistance. That means we have paid for everything that is needed to be paid for by way of all the costs including the transport of the bodies as well as the relatives who accompanied them. With regards to supporting their needs, for siblings whom they are supporting for schooling, it has been discussed with them and that they are in the process of identifying the needs.

The President’s Social Fund has provided them a hundred thousand pesos to start with as an educational fund. One of the siblings of—I’m trying to recall the family name—the one who is in Pasig? We’ve already provided the necessary graduation fee because the sibling that’s being supported is graduating this March. On the more medium term support, they, being the breadwinner, we are in the process of discussing with the families the appropriate level of support so that the gap that is to be filled because they were providing support for the family. We need to discuss what is the best and practical option that we can provide by way of assistance.

For those injured—the ones in the hospitals—we still have in St. Luke’s Global and Ospital ng Makati and one more in Makati Medical Center. All of them are in various stages of recuperation. They are all out of critical condition and we are continuing to provide the support for all medical expenses that are incurred because of the need for physical therapy and recuperation because most of them either have fracture and/or shrapnel wounds. And finally, we continue to provide stress debriefing for all families. And, we’re working closely with actually DOH, the National Mental Hospital personnel. And, both hospitals also provided stress debriefers for the families. And the local government unit of Makati has also been supporting, particularly the expenses at the Ospital ng Makati.

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