THE PHILIPPINES - President Aquino on Monday night declared a state of national calamity, three days after Supertyphoon "Yolanda" roared across the central Philippines, killing hundreds of people and leaving the region, in the words of a US military official, totally devastated.
"We declared a state of national calamity to expedite the government's rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in provinces devastated by Yolanda," Aquino said in a televised address to the nation.
The state of national calamity will remain in force until lifted by the President, according to Proclamation No. 682.
Aquino approved the release of P1.1 billion ($31.5 million) in additional "quick response fund" for both the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The President said the amount would be added to the P18.7-billion ($536 million) fund that the government had released to help the typhoon victims. It would be sourced from the government's calamity funds, contingency funds and savings, Aquino said.
"In the coming days, you can expect help to arrive [faster]," Aquino said, addressing typhoon survivors.
Cooperation and prayer would help the nation "rise from this disaster," the President said.
"Let us show the heart of the Filipino, who will never be brought to his knees by any typhoon," he added.
The proclamation will "hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance," Aquino said.
As of Monday, he said 22 countries had pledged assistance, among them Indonesia, the United States, England, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Hungary.