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Many gov’t offices cancel Xmas parties, give aid to victims
REGINA BENGCO, December 11, 2012

Many gov’t offices cancel Xmas parties, give aid to victims

Published on Monday, 10 December 2012 23:00
MALACAÑANG yesterday said agencies under the Office of the President, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the Office of the Presidential Spokesman, and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office have canceled their Christmas parties and will donate the funds to assistance for victims of typhoon “Pablo.”

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also called for “subdued” Christmas celebrations as the death toll due to the typhoon continues to rise.

“How does one celebrate when you know that there is misery when people are missing? How can one celebrate in full, in joy knowing that there are fellow brethren who have family members who cannot be found, cannot be accounted for?” he said.

He said the Cabinet took their cue from President Aquino, who asked “how does one celebrate?” after viewing the devastation in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

He said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has also canceled its party.

“I think what is important is that while this is a season of joy for all of us, we must remember that there are those among us who are not celebrating Christmas and so we share in that misfortune,” he said.

Lacierda also called on the private sector to lend helicopters for the faster delivery of relief goods to the typhoon victims.

“In keeping with the tradition of private sector involvement in humanitarian efforts following calamities, we call on companies and individuals to coordinate with the Eastern Mindanao Command for the use of private helicopters to transport much-needed relief goods and resources to afflicted provinces at the soonest possible time,” he said.

Lacierda said Eastmincom commander Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, ground commander of the search and rescue operations, and his men have been working tirelessly on the ground and need assistance.

He also said two Coast Guard vessels have been deployed to conduct search and rescue as well as relief operations in Davao Oriental.

He said the SARV-3504 has completed its second trip to transport relief goods and response personnel to Banganga town and ferried 42 town residents to Mati City, and is now on standby for a third trip.

He said another vessel, the SARV-003, is refueling at Sasa Wharf in Davao City and will be deployed to augment SARV-3504.

Lacierda said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II has ordered the Mati City government to speed up the release of its calamity fund to hire all available large, local fishing boats for the transfer of goods from Mati City to affected areas in Davao Oriental.

He said the Department of Social Welfare and Development will construct 63 bunkhouses in the hardest-hit towns of Banganga, Boston, and Cateel in Davao Oriental and New Bataan in Compostela Valley. Each bunkhouse can shelter 10 families while rehabilitation efforts begin in their towns.

He urged the public to support private sector initiatives to raise more funds for the typhoon victims. He said the DSWD has called for donations of dry goods.

He said government has enough funds to help the victims get back on their feet but the finance department will see if there are leftover funds from the P25-billion that the World Bank gave for rehabilitation of areas affected by typhoon “Sendong” in 2011.

NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said donations continue to arrive, including those from the international community. “We can sustain them (affected population) for the next two or three months,” he said.

AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said a C-130 plane began transporting relief goods from Metro Manila to Davao City to the typhoon victims.

Burgos said the US plane had already made two sorties – one last Sunday and another yesterday.

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said two housing agencies have imposed moratoriums on amortizations of borrowers affected by the typhoon.

He said the Home Development Mutual (Pag-IBIG) Fund will implement a three-month moratorium on housing loan amortizations while the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation will implement a six-month moratorium for typhoon victims.

Binay said Pag-IBIG’s moratorium covers housing loan borrowers whose property mortgage is in an area declared under a state of calamity.

The borrower must file his application for moratorium within 90 days from the declaration of the state of calamity, he said.

Binay said NHMFC’s moratorium will be effective from December 2012 to May 2013. He said affected borrowers need to file applications for moratorium not later than March 15, 2013 supported by a certification from the barangay chairman of the affected area.

Binay added that NHMFC borrowers who are no longer interested in returning to their respective units may opt to file for “dacion en pago” and voluntarily surrender their properties as a mode of settlement of their loan obligations.

Dacion en pago is a special mode of payment under which the debtor offers another thing to the creditor who then accepts it as equivalent of payment of an outstanding obligation.

Binay also reminded Pag-IBIG members that they can apply for a calamity loan equivalent of 80 percent of their total savings. He added Pag-IBIG offers the lowest interest rate of calamity loans in the market.

“Pag-IBIG’s calamity loan now carries a yearly interest rate of 5.95 percent, compared to the previous 10.75 percent,” Binay said. – With Victor Reyes

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