PGMA visits typhoon-stricken Dagupan; entire Cabinet in tow
By Venus H. Sarmiento
Dagupan City, Pangasinan (13 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally visited victims of typhoon Pepeng in this city today with the entire Cabinet in tow.
This is the President's second visit to the province in three days. She first dropped by the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council in Lingayen town at the height of flooding in the province Saturday. She also inspected by land the towns that were badly-hit by floods like San Fabian, San Jacinto, Manaoag, Urdaneta City, Villasis and Rosales.
Ms. Arroyo presided over the regular cabinet meeting at the West Central Elementary School where she briefed the Cabinet and the media of an executive order she signed for the creation of a special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission to undertake a study of the causes, costs, and actions to be taken in the wake of typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Frank as well as to seek fresh aid to fund reconstruction.
The President said the commission will be headed by a business leader with the Department of Finance and leader of the church as co-chairs. The Commission's key tasks are the following: undertake a study of the causes, costs and actions to be taken in the wake of the said typhoons; undertake the rehabilitation plan for wrecked infrastructure and other priorities; raise funds, especially grants, to fund reconstruction; prioritize programs; oversee implementation; serve as clearing house for international assistance implemented by the donors themselves using the cluster approach and; request the United Nations and the World Bank to coordinate an international pledging session.
The various Cabinet Secretaries presented their accomplishment reports and action plans to the President in the three-hour meeting. Ms. Arroyo was especially happy with the report of the Department of Health that despite the big number of evacuees in various evacuation centers, there was no epidemic of diseases.
She also praised the inventory of all assets of the government being done by public offices and even civilians to use and mobilize in times of emergencies. The Department of Trade and Industry said it made sure the price ceiling of commodities is enforced.
She also noted Dagupan City's reliable disaster response system and encouraged other areas to follow the city's emergency operations measures and risk-reduction programs.
In her closing statement, the President thanked everybody even as she promised to continue working very hard to maintain the country's economic growth during the difficult times for nature.
"I'd like to thank everybody, all levels of the government for helping us to be very resilient during this climate crisis. As Undersecretary Yumul pointed out, the disasters have been more severe during our administration because of climate change but the cost and the casualties have been much lower. So we have improved very much our disaster response," the President said.
After the Cabinet meeting, she proceeded to the city plaza for the distribution of palay to farmer beneficiaries and later to the Dagupan City Astrodome that served as the city's evacuation center, for the distribution of relief goods. (PIA-Pangasinan) [top]