A respected and well-known forensic expert in the Philippines whose services were tapped by the Department of Health (DoH) to help identify the bodies in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban but had to pull out after being insulted by her counterparts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), yesterday lashed out at President Aquino, saying his latest pronouncement on the slow body count had only exposed the extent of his incompetence and ignorance.
In her twitter account which had been going viral, forensic expert, Dr. Raquel Fortun, said Aquino’s statement defending the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) for its slow and low “Yolanda” casualty count, had only exposed the President’s gross incompetence and ignorance.
In his statement the other day, Aquino was quoted saying that the NDRRMC had been relatively slow in its body count as it had to make sure of its data before releasing any figure of the dead.
The belief is that Aquino had ordered the NDRRMC director to bring down the death count, as Aquino had publicly estimated the death toll at 2,000 only.
“It’s because you have to make sure that there is the certification or a coroner’s report before it is made official,” Aquino said in reference to the supposed body-count procedure.
However, Fortun rebutted him in her twitter account, saying Aquino obviously does not know what he is talking about.
“Certification of a coroner’s report is needed before a body is counted?” Fortun said.
“Do you know Mr. President that we don’t have coroners in the Philippines?” She pointed out.
When a follower in her account told her that it could have been what Aquino’s advisers told him, Fortun retorted: “Shhh! His advisers also don’t know that.”
Fortun also lamented at how Aquino is running his government saying it was much better during the time of former President, now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Arroyo’s term may not have been spanking clean. But at least there was a sense that we were governed,” she said.
Fortun also noted a major difference between Aquino and Arroyo saying Arroyo was not afraid to face and confront any problem,but that Aquino is too allergic to hear any negative news.
“With former President GMA, you throw all the problems at her and she will deal with them. But the one who is sitting now is allergic to bad news,” Fortun said.
“So, if your boss does not like bad news, you are out of place with him. Thus you also end up delivering only good news to him,” she said.
Having stayed in Tacloban for five days, and witnessing for herself the miseries of the people there, Fortun could only sympathize with Yolanda’s victims.
“It’s only 27 days before Christmas and still we have no Christmas tree yet. But for some people, they still have no homes to stay and worse, some of them have lost their loved ones,” Fortun stated in her account.
The “official” death toll coming from the NDRRMC continues to go much too slowly.
Three weeks after super typhoon “Yolanda” smashed into the Visayas region, government authorities continued to recover corpses in the affected areas as the official death toll being reported by the NDRRMC is piling up.
The Task Force Cadaver, headed by Senior Supt. Pablito Cordeta of the Bureau of Fire Protection, on Wednesday retrieved 34 more bodies in Tacloban City.
So far, the task force has already retrieved a total of 2,038 corpses from the hardest hit city since its activation last Nov. 15 or a week after “Yolanda” struck.
The official death toll of the NDRRMC yesterday stood at only 5,560 with 60 additional confirmed deaths in Eastern Visayas. The number of injured people remained at 26,136 and those missing still 1,757.
The NDRRMC, however, reported an increase in the number of affected families which stood at 2,317,553 composed of 10,884,242 individuals from 11,984 barangays from 580 towns and 57 cities of Region IV-A, IV-B, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XI and Caraga.
According to the NDRRMC update, “Yolanda” has displaced a total of 779,897 families or 3,541,997 people. Of the number, 48,598 families composed of 225,911 persons remained inside 1,091 evacuation centers.
Houses destroyed or damaged also went up at 1,173,413.
The cost of damage both in infrastructures and agriculture sector was pegged at P24,539,251,407.26.
The NDRRMC said that government relief operations have been continuing with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the lead agency.
The government has so far distributed about 1.9 million food packs and 233,244 high-energy biscuits, worth about P560 million, to the affected people as of Wednesday, although in some typhoon stricken areas, there were people who continue to complain that they merely got their first package of relief, with the second one never having arrived.
To date, the NDRRMC said the 34,576 individuals, 1,336 vehicles, 111 seacraft, 162 aircraft and 28,431 others assets and equipment from national, local and foreign agencies and volunteer organizations are now operating in the typhoon-ravaged areas.
A total of 2,041 medical personnel, both local and international teams, are also in the area to address the victims’ medical needs.
Meanwhile, a Bangladesh navy ship will be bringing in 40 tons of relief goods today during its three-day goodwill visit to Manila.
BNS Somudra Joy will be docking at the Pier 15 in South Harbor.
“The visit is expected to enhance the bilateral relations between the Philippine Navy and the Bangladesh Navy especially in providing mutual assistance during time of disasters like the recent yphoon that devastated Eatsern Visayas,” said Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Gerald Fabic.
Fabic said that BNS Somudra Joy’s commanding officer, Commodore Mohammad Nazmul Karim Kislu, will be having a courtesy call to Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano.
Aquino has approved in principle the Cabinet’s recommendations on critical immediate action plans that will be prioritized in the rehabilitation program post typhoon Yolanda, said Presidential Communications Operations secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. Thursday in Malacañang.
Coloma said Budget secretary Florencio Abad had already submitted the proposed supplemental budget in the House of Representatives during Wednesday hearing on the proposed outlay is P38.8 billion pesos.
“Nearly 80 percent is for the reconstruction of destroyed or damaged homes and repair of classrooms, hospitals, public markets and other public facilities such as town halls and government offices,” Coloma said.
Coloma said the livelihood assistance for farmers and fishermen has also been prioritized due to the extreme damage to crops and coconut trees and the disruption of fishing activities in the typhoon aftermath.
Aquino met with the Cabinet yesterday to resume discussions on the rehabilitation and reconstruction plans that will also cover the work that will be done in Bohol, Zamboanga and Central Luzon (post-typhoon Santi.)” By Charlie V. Manalo, Mario J. Mallari and Paul Atienza