Despite the aftermath of supertyphoon “Lawin” in Cagayan as well as other provinces in northern Luzon the past week, local officials and residents of Cagayan province are left to wonder as to why any form of foreign government assistance are yet to be delivered in the region in the first few days after the typhoon.
This situation has led the province to struggle in coping with the damage inflicted by one of the strongest storms to hit the Philippines with devastation comparable to that of Yolanda’s, a storm which gravely affected Eastern Visayas that resulted in immense aid from foreign governments.
Contrastingly, on Saturday, October 22, residents noticed the lack of foreign aid in helping to cope with the outcome of Lawin’s wrath. According to the spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Romina Marasigan, the reason may be due to the lack of initiative of the government to appeal for foreign assistance.
On Friday, Marasigan disclosed that the government has not made any move to seek help from foreign governments despite the willingness of the Asean Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance and the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund Manila offices to offer assistance any time requested.
Marasigan has also mentioned other organizations such as the Philippine Disaster Relief Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and World Vision’s preparedness into providing relief supplies and aid workers once the government requests for it.
Despite the lack of interest from the higher ups, Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba is open to any foreign help, whether from the US or China.
Spokesperson for the Army’s 5th Infantry Division, Capt. Evelyn Audencial stated that they “can manage” even with no word of assistance from foreign administrations.
However, the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council in Cagayan has identified four dead, 11 injured, 9,000 houses destroyed, 28,000 displaced, P5.7 billion worth of crops and P433.8 million worth of infrastructure damaged. These numbers have left both provincial and municipal DRRM offices to cope with limited food and relief supplies.
The Cagayan provincial board are waiting for a convention and declaration of state of calamity from its governor to hasten issuance of emergency funds.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Aid Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that the government has sufficient funds to help the victims of Lawin, which does not warrant asking for foreign aid.
“Mga mahal nating kababayan, kaunting paliwanag po: hindi tayo humihingi ng foreign assistance o donations mula sa ibang bansa para sa Karen o Lawin dahil nakitang may sapat na pondo ang gobyerno at mga ahensya nito para saklolohan ang mamamayang apektado,” Taguiwalo said in a Facebook post on October 23.
“Pagsisikapan natin na paghusayin at linisin ang sistema ng relief at assistance distribution nang walang halong pulitika,” she added.
According to Philippine Star’s report, Lawin caused P10.2-billion worth of damage, as estimated by the Department of Agriculture. This includes damage to 467,068 of agricultural areas in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol and the affected livelihoods of around 70,000 farmers.