Humanitarian aid providers rush to Dinagat, Siargao, Surigao to deliver relief goods

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 18 DeCember) — Military authorities are being swamped with calls from humanitarian aid organizations for ships and planes that could deliver relief food and water to the typhoon-stricken Dinagat and Siargao islands, and the Surigao provinces in mainland Mindanao.

Capt. Jonald Romoroso, spokesperson of the Butuan-based Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade said international aid agencies have asked them if there were available naval and air assets to bring food and water to these areas.

Dinagat Islands after Typhoon “Odette.” From the Facebook page of Gov. Kaka Bag-ao

Similar inquiries have also been received by the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro according to their public affairs official, Maj. Francisco Garillo.

“We are still waiting for orders if we can deploy military trucks to Surigao City. We heard the highway from Butuan to Surigao City is already cleared of landslides and is passable,” Garillo said.

Romorosa said a Philippine Air Force C130 bringing food and water is scheduled to land at the Surigao City airport Saturday afternoon.

He said two Philippine Navy ships have also arrived in Surigao City to bring supplies of food, water and medicines to Dinagat and Siargao Island.

In Cagayan de Oro City, the non-governmental organization Balay Mindanaw is sending a team of responders bringing food and water filtration systems to Dinagat Island on Sunday.

Balay Mindanaw’s  Chair Emeritus, Charlito Manlupig, said the SkyHydrant filtration system donated by Disaster Aid Australia could turn filthy water into potable and safe drinking water.

“These are the systems that people in Dinagat Island need most,” Manlupig said.

He said the team would wait for any available Navy or Coast Guard ship that could take them to Dinagat Island.

Dinagat Governor Arlene Bag-ao who sent a team out of the island to seek help is asking for food, water, medicines and other basic goods as well as assistance in the restoration of electricity and telecommunications  (see other story)

Romoroso said they attempted to land in Dinagat Island last Friday to give Governor Bag-ao a satellite phone and communications equipment but bad weather prevented them from landing.

Romoroso who was able to fly to Siargao last Friday described the situation in the tourist-famous island as “ total destruction.”

“Most of the rooftops of the houses and government buildings were blown off. Sometimes you wonder how people can survive the onslaught, “ he said.

He said they landed in Siargao and gave a satellite phone and radio communications to Surigao del Norte Francisco Matugas.

Matugas cited initial reports of two deaths and estimated the damages in the island, his hometown, at 20 billion pesos.

In Davao City, the Matina Community Pantry is proceeding to Lingig in Surigao del Sur, another typhoon-stricken area, to bring relief goods (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)