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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora