Search and rescue, power, telco services restoration top priority

Search and rescue, power, telco services restoration top priority
President Benigno Aquino III

MANILA - Philippines President Benigno Aquino III on Friday night ordered the release of P365 million (S$10.5 million) to the Philippine Air Force as a search and rescue operation for victims of Super-typhoon "Yolanda" got under way.

After a meeting with selected Cabinet members Friday, Mr. Aquino ordered the following: the immediate restoration of power in the affected provinces in the Visayas; coordination with telecom companies to resume phone connectivity; the clearing of road obstructions and the declogging of waterways; and examination of coastal areas affected by storm surges to help speed up relief efforts starting on Saturday.

He also directed Science Secretary Mario Montejo to "study and recommend" to the government the adoption of an all-weather communication system in the face of widespread problems with phone connectivity in the midst of the disaster.

These instructions were announced by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma in an interview Friday night with state television PTV 4.

Report from Roxas, Gazmin

According to Coloma, Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had reported to the President via satellite phone from Leyte. The two had flown last Thursday to the province, which was predicted to be under the most serious threat from the supertyphoon.

"They reported heavy damage in the province, widespread power outages and that telecom services have yet to be restored to normal (operation)," said Coloma.

Mr. Aquino also conferred with Armed Forces Chief Emmanuel Bautista for logistical support to be given the AFP.

The P365 million (S$10.5 million) will be released to the Air Force for fleet maintenance and provisions as well as provision for petroleum, oil and lubricants.

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