PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is eyeing a trip to the storm-stricken areas even as he monitored yesterday the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) in Manila, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
This developed as some of Duterte’s Cabinet men emerged as Ompong “survivors” after they suffered the brunt of the typhoon.
They were dispatched by the President to the Ilocano provinces in Ompong’s path to personally supervise government efforts for Ompong.
The roof and windows of the house where political adviser Secretary Francis Tolentino stayed was blown off by the strong winds even as Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade experienced blackout at the hotel where he stayed in Cagayan, it was learned.
Roque said Duterte, who often spends weekends in his hometown of Davao City, stayed in Manila for the weekend.
“He’s in Manila. He did not leave and is monitoring,” Roque said in an inter-agency briefing yesterday.
“Knowing him, he will be the first to go to the affected area as soon as the weather will allow his choppers to take off,” Duterte’s spokesperson added.
Duterte’s Ilocano Cabinet men were tasked to go home to their provinces to monitor government response to Ompong, Roque said.
The President designated Tolentino as his pointman to oversee government efforts on Ompong.
Roque’s office was tasked to monitor information dissemination, while many other Cabinet members attended the inter-agency briefing on Saturday.
Roque presided at the 9 a.m. over the inter-agency briefing at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Quoting a report from Tugade, who is in Tuguegarao, Roque said the typhoon destroyed Tuguegarao Airport.
Tolentino is in Cagayan, while Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is in Ilagan, Isabela, Roque added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, NDRRMC chairman, later clarified Tugade’s earlier report, saying that only the Tuguegarao Airport terminal was damaged, but not the runway.
“Kung meron mang mga debris ‘yung runway, it can be cleared immediately pagkawala ng hangin and the airport can be used anytime after that,” Lorenzana said.
Quoting Tugade, Roque said there are no problems with the delivery of humanitarian resources to Cagayan amid damage in Tuguegarao Airport terminal.
“There are runways there in Cagayan Valley, one in Kawayan, one in Tugegarao and one in Lal-lo,” Lorenzana pointed out.
Lorenzana said NDRRMC personnel are also strategically deployed to respond immediately to stranded residents, particularly in Cagayan Valley, which is prone to flooding.
Meanwhile, Secretary Ramon Lopez of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in a text message to Roque, said the DTI has set up command centers “to ensure continuous flow of basic necessities and prime commodities, especially right after the typhoon.”
Two C-130 planes are ready to airlift relief goods to Cagayan Valley if the weather permits, while about 10 helicopters are also being prepared for rescue operations in the mountains, said Lorenzana.
Asked if offers of humanitarian assistance from abroad are coming, Lorenzana said Japan and Australia have already signified to extend assistance.
Ompong, which made landfall in Cagayan province at 1:40 a.m. on Saturday, has affected 126,751 Filipinos so far.