President assures quick relief for flood victims


PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said he would send quick relief to people in the capital region and nearby provinces after Typhoon Vamco, locally named Ulysses, submerged much of Luzon island, prompting residents to climb on rooftops to escape rising floodwaters.

“I guarantee you that your government will do its best to provide assistance in the form of shelters, relief goods, financial aid and post-disaster counseling,” he said in a speech.

The typhoon, the fifth to hit the island in less than three weeks, left millions in Metro Manila and nearby provinces without power.

Mr. Duterte took time out of the 37th ASEAN virtual summit to address the nation over the storm. Ulysses made its landfall on Wednesday in Quezon province.

Mr. Duterte renewed his call for agencies and local governments to expand their assistance especially to those from flood-hit areas.

Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Ano told a separate news briefing the President would probably call for an emergency meeting to discuss state response to the typhoon.

He said areas hit worst included houses near the Marikina River and Pasig River. The typhoon drew comparisons to Typhoon Ketsana, locally named Ondoy, which submerged eastern parts of the capital region in 2009.

Mr. Ano said air assets would be sent soon as the weather gets better.

Manila’s international airport and rail operations were suspended because of the typhoon. Operations of buses on the main EDSA highway were also suspended and only resumed at 1 p.m., the Transportation department said in a statement.

Typhoon Ulysses, which peaked at speeds of 155 kilometers per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 255 kph, was weaker than Super Typhoon Goni — locally named Rolly — but more areas reported heavy floods.

Several rivers were being monitored as the local weather bureau issued warnings on Wednesday about the possible rise in water levels at three major rivers.

Four other major river basins in Pampanga, Agno, Bicol and Cagayan were also being monitored, it said in a report.

Vamco was expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility by Friday morning, the bureau said in a 5 p.m. bulletin on Thursday.

The typhoon had slightly weakened as it moved over the South China Sea, it said, adding that heavy rainfall was still expected until Thursday night especially in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the eastern portions of Cagayan and Isabela, Zambales, Bataan, Aurora, Cavite, the western portion of Batangas and Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island. — Gillian M. Cortez and Arjay L. Balinbin

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