The country recorded a lower death toll of typhoon Ulysses compared to typhoon Ondoy partly due to the government’s better disaster response and relief efforts, according to President Duterte.
The President mentioned the much lower fatality count after expressing satisfaction with the government’s efforts to provide relief aid to people after the typhoon wreaked havoc on many parts of Luzon last week.
“I am quite overly satisfied with the performance of the uniformed personnel of government,” Duterte said during a meeting with top government officials Tuesday night.
“Despite of its fury, we were able to manage. Hindi naman… I know that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth to say that minimal ang namatay. Pero hindi kagaya ng Ondoy, ngayon medyo ano (the death toll was minimal but unlike what happened during Ondoy, now it’s (lower)),” he added.
Duterte attributed the government’s improved disaster response due to the acquisition of assets enhancing the capability of country’s coast guard. He said government personnel and equipment were deployed “to save lives” two to three days before the landfall of the typhoon.
“Because we have a better — marami na kasi tayong — we have been buying. Ang Coast Guard sige bili ng mga — itong mga rubber boats and they were the ones that were deployed (Because we have a better, we have many, we have been buying. The Coast Guard has purchased rubber boats and they were the ones that were deployed),” he said.
In the same meeting with the President, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also defended the government’s adequate preparedness for the typhoon, citing the casualty count of Ulysses casualty count was lower than Ondoy’s.
As of Tuesday, Año said 73 people died while 19 others were missing when Ulysses unleashed its heavy rains and winds in many parts of Luzon.
“Kung ikukumpara po ito sa Bagyong Ondoy, maliit pa rin po ito. Ang Ondoy ay Region III, Region IV-A, at saka NCR. Tatlong region po pero almost 500 po ‘yung namatay doon (If we compare it to typhoon Onday, this is much smaller. Ondoy hit Regions III, Region IV-A and NCR. There were three regions affected but almost 500 were killed then),” he said.
Typhoon Ulysses unleashed heavy rains and winds, that caused widespread floods in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon last week. More than 3 million people were affected by the typhoon while billions of pesos worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure were reported.
In 2009, Ondoy hit the capital region and other areas in Luzon with heavy rainfall that induced massive flooding. The storm claimed the lives of 464 people.
The President earlier defended the government’s typhoon response from criticisms about it was alleged unprepared and slow to deal with the calamity, insisting relief supplies have been prepositioned ahead of the typhoon’s onslaught. He also denied he was sleeping on the job as he launched an angry tirade against Vice President Leni Robredo for allegedly grandstanding and lying about his absence when the calamity struck.
Palace officials have criticized Robredo for allegedly making it appear she was in charge of the typhoon relief efforts even as government personnel have already been mobilized prior to the storm’s landfall.
A state of calamity has already been declared over entire Luzon to hasten the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the areas devastated by the recent storms.