News / Asia

    Aquino Vows to Stay in Typhoon-hit Central Philippines

    Aquino Vows to Stay in Typhoon-hit Central Philippinesi
    X
    November 18, 2013 10:19 AM
    Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to "stay" in the typhoon-battered center of the country until he is "satisfied" with efforts to help survivors of a devastating November 8 storm.
    Simone Orendain
    Philippine President Benigno Aquino has vowed to "stay" in the typhoon-battered center of the country until he is "satisfied" with efforts to help survivors of a devastating November 8 storm.

    Aquino made the pledge Sunday as he visited the hard-hit central islands of Samar and Leyte, where thousands of people flocked to ruined churches for weekly prayers.  Some gave thanks for surviving Super Typhoon Haiyan, while others prayed for the souls of the thousands of people who were killed.

    Sunday services typically are a time of reflection in the Philippines, whose population is 80 percent Roman Catholic.  Filipinos have maintained that faith despite repeatedly enduring disasters of biblical proportions.

    In its latest casualty report issued Sunday, the Philippine government said the typhoon killed at least 3,974 people and left about 1,200 others missing.  Many of them were swept away and drowned in a huge storm surge triggered by one of the strongest cyclones on record.

    Photos by Steve Herman

    • Trees destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan are seen from a military helicopter delivering aid to isolated villages north of Tacloban, Philippines.
    • Competitors row their wooden boat during a boat racing as part of celebrations of the Water Festival in Thnol Dach, Takoe province, southwestern Cambodia.
    • The Dutch version of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, and his blackface sidekicks "Zwarte Piet" or "Black Pete" arrive by steamboat in Hoorn, north-western Netherlands, Nov. 16, 2013. The tradition is being debated, opponents say Black Petes are an offensive caricature of black people while supporters say Pete is a figure of fun whose appearance is harmless, his face soot-stained from going down chimneys to deliver present for the children.
    • Mt. Etna, Europe's most active volcano, spews lava during an eruption as seen from Acireale, near the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, Nov. 16, 2013.
    • A Sri Lankan man cycles his bicycle laden with firewood to be sold in the northern town of Kilinochchi.
    • Indian Sikh devotees queue up to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, on the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru in Amritsa.
    • Joost Luiten of the Netherlands plays a shot during the final round of the DP World Tour Golf Championship in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.
    • A demonstrator kisses a riot police officer during a protest in Susa against the high-speed train (TAV in Italian) line between Lyon and Turin, Nov. 16, 2013.
    • Adelina Sotnikova of Russia performs during the gala exhibition ending the ISU Figure Skating Eric Bompard Trophy at Bercy arena in Paris, France.
    • Indian performers ride cars and motor bikes inside a makeshift wooden cylindrical 'Wall of Death' during the annual Farmers' Fair at Shama Chak Jhiri, some 22 kilometers from Jammu.
    • Japan's Arisa Sato (L) receives the ball to save a point against Brazil on the final day of the FIVB Women's Volleyball Grand Champions Cup 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

    Beliefs challenged

    Washington-based Cardinal Theodore McCarrick visited the town of Palo on Leyte island and led a mass for the faithful at a heavily damaged cathedral.   Speaking to VOA later in the day in the city of Ormoc, the 83-year-old acknowledged that words of scripture may not be enough for some traumatized people.

    "At the beginning everyone is hurting.  And they lost so many friends and family," he said.  "And they do not know why God is doing this to us.   Well, in a real sense, we say it is not that God is doing this to us, [but] he is allowing these things to happen probably for a greater cause."

    The Civil Defense Office also estimated that almost four million people have been left homeless.

    British-based child development agency Plan International  posted a dramatic video of the storm surge on YouTube.  Filmed by staff member Nickson Gensis, it shows tsunami-like waves engulfing homes in the coastal town of Hernani on Samar island.

    Gensis said he shot the video from the second floor of a building that withstood the impact.

    Presidential response

    It was not immediate clear where President Aquino would set up camp in the typhoon zone.  He has faced growing domestic criticism in recent days for a perceived sluggish response to the storm.

    On Sunday, Mr. Aquino made visits to the ruined city of Tacloban on Leyte and the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar province, which was the first to be hit by the typhoon.

    Speaking to local officials in Guiuan, he expressed appreciation for volunteers assisting with the relief work.

    "The government can rise up," he said.  "There are so many countries helping, that the Philippines will be able to recover.  But if every [small town] were to volunteer to help immediately, the process would be easier and faster."

    Aquino has made similar trips out of Manila to respond to recent crises.

    Last month, Aquino slept overnight in an army tent on the central island of Bohol, where an earthquake killed more than 200 people and left thousands homeless.  He also spent several days in the southern city of Zamboanga in September to oversee a military offensive against Muslim rebels who seized parts of the area.

    Aid intensifies

    The scope of international aid deliveries in the typhoon-battered Philippines widened Monday as U.S. military helicopters dropped food, water and relief supplies to remote island and mountain communities.
     
    The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is serving as the hub of aid efforts, ferrying out supplies for distribution by aircraft and bringing in hundreds of victims for aid and medical treatment.

    • U.S. Marines help load relief supplies onto an MH-60R Seahawk to be airlifted to remote areas of the Philippines in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens board an HC-130 Hercules to be airlifted to safety. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens board an HC-130 Hercules as U.S. sailors transport relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • U.S. military personnel and and Philippine civilians unload relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)
    • U.S. military personnel and Philippine citizens unload relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)
    • A U.S. Hospital Corpsman assists Philippine nurses in treating a patient's head wound at the Immaculate Conception School refugee camp.  (U.S. Navy)
    • An HC-130 Hercules and other military aircraft sit on the tarmac at Guiuan airport waiting to airlift Philippine citizens in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • A U.S. Naval Air Crewman assists Philippine citizens in distributing relief supplies in support of Operation Damayan. (U.S. Navy)
    • Philippine citizens gather around a MH-60S Seahawk as it delivers relief supplies. (U.S. Navy)

    On the ground, there are signs that devastated communities are beginning to recover, with some markets reopening and a few gasoline stations starting to pump fuel once again. People are repairing damaged homes or making temporary shelters out of the remains of their old ones.
     
    The U.S. government has announced a further $10 million in aid, bringing its commitment so far to $37 million.

    The Philippine government said it delivered about 115,000 food packages to survivors on Saturday, a significant jump from the 45,000 it passed out on Friday.

    Overseas Catholic charities also were on the ground in some of the worst-hit communities.  Martha Skretteberg of Caritas Norway told VOA her group was coordinating closely with local Catholic churches. 

    "The people run to the church at the first opportunity in order to get protection, in order to get food, some help," she said.

    Hundreds of Philippine domestic workers in Hong Kong used their single day off from work to collect donations of goods and money to send to the disaster area.  Many also prayed for the well-being of loved ones in the affected region.  Hong Kong is home to about 150,000 Filipinos, most of them employed as domestic workers.

    China's foreign ministry said Beijing is ready to send emergency medical teams to the Philippines when "conditions permit."  The Chinese government made the offer after its contribution of almost $2 million in typhoon aid prompted critics to draw unflattering comparisons with much larger donations from Western powers.

    Chinese-Philippine relations have been tense the past year as each side criticized the other for asserting sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    Steve Herman and Michael Lipin contributed to this report from Ormoc, Philippines and Washington.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Keen from: Philippines
    November 20, 2013 10:54 AM
    PNoy, as we call him in the Philippines has been an originator of change in my country and so far he's good at what he does...We've seen him gradually changing the infamous political system in the Philippines, yet due to time constraint, these changes were minimal yet promising...Recently, this man, had made the biggest mistake in his political career and thus besmirch his clean-slate disposition...His recent supervision of our current predicament might be the his downfall...

    by: Hugh M Anwright from: Seattle Makati
    November 19, 2013 12:13 AM
    Aquino needed to assert control over his army and rescue forces, his airports and his presidency 7 days ago. What a mouth, blaming the devastated local authorities. He is now only in the way. His men removed the drugs and money 4 days ago.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora