The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) granted much-needed cash assistance to 333 families affected by Tropical Storm Agaton in Barangays Ambilay, Cabugao, and Cabangahan in the municipality of Panitan, Capiz. The tropical storm caused flooding and landslides in four cities and 77 municipalities across the country in April.
The PRC intends the cash grant of Php5,000.00 per family, or Php1,665,000.00, to be multipurpose, which means it should help meet whatever the beneficiaries’ needs are. The cash grant is part of the Forecast-Based Financing Project, a partnership among the Philippine Red Cross, the German Red Cross, and the Finnish Red Cross.
PRC Board of Governors member Francis Joseph J. Jalandoni, together with 72 volunteers and staff from various PRC services and teams, took charge of the relief operations. Fifteen members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team and six police officers ensured peace and order during the event.
PRC Chairman and CEO Senator Richard ‘Dick’ J. Gordon reassured those who were made vulnerable by TS Agaton that the Red Cross will continue to provide assistance until they are able to recover. “Gaya ng dati, nandito ang Red Cross para alalayan ang ating mga kababayan hanggang sa sila ay maka-recover,” Chairman Gordon said.
From April 7 to May 1, the PRC also served hot meals to 13,548 individuals and distributed 621,760 liters of water to populations affected by TS Agaton in Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, General Santos City, Hilongos, Iloilo, Leyte, Maguindanao, Negros Occidental, Ormoc, Passi City, Sorsogon, Southern Leyte, and Surigao del Norte. It gave food items to 1,333 families and psychosocial first aid to 757 adults and 371 children. Its emergency response unit helped evacuate 67 individuals and rescued another 99. PRC volunteers and staff provided emergency medical services, hygiene education, and PPEs. They also helped some local government units in distributing their relief items.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO, Senator Richard “Dick” J. Gordon, directed the PRC team in Baybay City, Leyte, to continue its support for the local government in its Tropical Storm (TS) Agaton response. Senator Gordon’s directive came 13 days after the first PRC search and rescue team arrived in the city and started rescue and relief operations in the area. The PRC Emergency Response Unit (ERU) continued to work alongside the city’s own emergency response unit in retrieval operations in landslide-affected Barangay Kantagnos.
Also yesterday, the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) team distributed 23,300 liters of water: 11,300 in Baybay National High School, 6,500 in Barangay Hipusngo, 1,200 in Zone 14, and 4,300 in Zone 18. The PRC response team in Baybay regularly coordinates with the city government to guide its actions.
To ensure implementation of his directives, Senator Gordon continues to monitor the situation in Baybay and other TS Agaton-affected areas. He assured the affected residents that the Philippine Red Cross “will be here for the long haul, as usual.”
On April 11, after multiple landslides were reported in Leyte due to heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm (TS) Agaton, PRC sent a search and rescue team to assist the local government of Baybay City. On April 12, a PRC humanitarian caravan, composed of a water tanker, an ambulance, and a mobile kitchen arrived in Baybay. Two more teams were added afterward, to reinforce the ambulance services and help provide welfare services, such as distributing hot meals and providing psychosocial first aid.
In an interview with ABC Australia on Tropical Storm Agaton (international name: Megi) last April 13, 2022, via Skype, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO, Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon emphasized the need for a long-term plan to make sure people have the option to live in safe areas and not in dangerous ones, such as at the foot of mountains or near oceans. “There has to be a long-term plan, a big sit-down to ensure every province can make some alternatives for the people,” Chairman Gordon said.
This is the policy change Gordon wishes to see after the elections, he said when asked whether the campaign season has affected the Philippines’ assistance to areas hit by Agaton. He explained that the country will alleviate human suffering by making sure it prevents it by predicting the areas that are prone to disasters and adopting appropriate policies.
The Chairman has been an advocate of a national policy to move people living in dangerous areas to safer places. PRC built homes in a safer place for the survivors of the 2006 landslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard town in Southern Leyte, which killed around 2,000 people. PRC also built or repaired homes for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which caused ocean surges as high as six meters and devastated the Eastern Visayas region in 2013. Overall, the PRC has built or repaired 80,000 homes for survivors of calamities in Eastern Visayas.
Chairman Gordon swore that the Red Cross will be helping populations affected by TS Agaton in the long run, as it usually does for survivors of calamities. “The Red Cross will be here for the long haul, as usual,” Chairman Gordon said. He mentioned that the PRC is still assisting survivors of Super Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), which made landfall on Christmas eve of 2021.
Gordon mentioned some preparedness measures that can be adopted, such as having whistles to call for help during calamities, identifying high-risk areas and moving people, and training people especially for landslides. He highlighted the importance of having pre-positioned people and logistics in the regions, such as sirens, flares, pickax, shovel, payloader, torch and other lighting devices that can be used even at night.