MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that current rules that require an assessment of areas affected by a certain disaster before a state of calamity is declared has led to his late proclamation, saying that it is a stupid rule as the government needed to response quickly to Typhoon Odette’s effects.
During a pre-recorded command briefing at the General Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu aired on Saturday, Duterte said that the reason why it took him days before he placed areas affected by Odette under a state of calamity is because he had to wait for reports to come in first.
Typhoon Odette hit northern parts of Mindanao, particularly Caraga Region, starting afternoon of December 16, and then it started moving towards southern Visayas, and then towards Palawan. However, the state of calamity was only declared five days after, on December 21.
“‘Yon ang (dahilan) kung bakit nga natagalan itong declaration ng calamity proclamation, it’s because ang aking proclamation must, ang backbone niyan is the report of kung sino, parang kay General Jalad, sa kanya ‘yan and I have to wait for the report — kaya it’s a stupid thing eh, maghintay ako ng report ng assessment before I can act on a proclamation,” Duterte claimed.
“That’s the law, so wala akong magawa. You know there are rules imposed and when you start to make shortcuts, ‘yan ang nagkaka-problema lalo na itong sitwasyon ng pulitika ng Pilipinas, p*tang *ina. Kung ano-anong kap*tahan ang lumalabas sa utak,” he added.
Duterte said that since the law does not allow him to sign any proclamation about a state of calamity unless there is a report — he asked administration officials to inform the Commission on Audit (COA) that he would not follow such rules.
The report, Duterte said as he lashed out in expletives, should come after the assistance had been given to the people.
“So I cannot sign anything because the law says… ngayon nag-meeting ako, sabi ko if that is the requirement, that is a stupid requirement, I will not follow it, sabihin ko you call si (Chairperson Michael) Aguinaldo sa COA, alam mo sabi ko, bakit kagaya ng damage nitong sa agriculture, if you make it as a requirement in addition to, itong sa present situation, p*ta patay ang tao,” he said.
“I will not follow it. I’m going ahead and use the money, ‘yong report mo, ‘yong basis ng ano, will come later […] Walang sistema dito, alam mo puputok ka talaga. Ang sistema dito na puro bullsh*t talaga. So we had somebody to call the COA, sabihin mo hindi ako susunod d’yan, gamitin ko ‘yong pera without the report. Because the report or the assessment always comes after the emergency, or the thing has died down. Pero maghintay ka nang gano’n?” he asked.
Duterte has promised to provide a P10 billion fund to assist areas affected by Typhoon Odette, including P6 billion that would come from the proposed 2022 national budget once he signs it into law.
According to acting Budget secretary Tina Rose Canda, P2 billion was sourced from the calamity fund, while the remaining P2 billion were obtained through the President’s contingency fund.
Earlier, Duterte fired back at his critics who were calling him out for claiming that the government’s coffers have been depleted, saying that the government really had funds but they have been appropriated already to specific items.
After Typhoon Odette’s onslaught, opposition leader and former Bayan Muna lawmaker Neri Colmenares pointed out that the government has made a lot of loans, and it already has a lot of funds at its disposal.
Senator Richard Gordon on the other hand urged the President to look at the anomaly involving the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., a company accused of siphoning government funds for overpriced pandemic supplies.
From last December 16 to 18, Typhoon Odette ravaged several provinces in Visayas and Mindanao, leading observers to compare it to Super Typhoon Yolanda’s effects in 2013.
As of Saturday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 367 were reported dead due to Typhoon Odette, while 51 remain missing.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that the number of individuals affected by the typhoon has swelled to 3,918,689 or 1,000,742 families, while 108,082 houses have been totally damaged.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.