By Tracy Cabrera
Surigao City residents keep up the faith despite Odette’s devastation of the city. (Photo: Inquirer.net)
MANILA — With the national flag flown at half staff in the local government center here in Surigao City, incumbent senator and presidential aspirant Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao empathized with the families of the victims of the recent super typhoon Odette (international name Rai), saying it is time for Filipinos to unite in helping those who had been severely affected by the calamity.
Surigao’s city hall reopened for official business four days after being ravaged by Odette, which packed stronger winds and a greater amount of rainfall on the city with thousands of families displaced and properties destroyed, hampering businesses and livelihood throughout the region.
According to Surigao city administrator Jerry Centro, the Philippine flag’s half-mast “is an expression of mourning with the people of Surigao who had to bear the calamity.”
“We sympathize with all the people of Surigao who lost their homes,” Centro said.
Pacquiao expressed grief over the lives lost during the typhoon, noting the destruction wrought by Odette and the loss of homes by majority of families in the city which experienced grave threat to their lives because of the strong winds and flash floods.
“Talagang nakakaawa ang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan dito at maging sa iba pang mga lugar na tinamaan ng bagyo dahil nakakaranas sila ngayon ng matinding gutom at kakulangan sa tubig at iba pang mga pangunahing kailangan sa pang-araw-araw bilang pamumuhay,” the People’s Champ enthused.
He reminded typhoon victims not to lose hope as God will always provide for those who are in need, apart from government’s efforts to give them material and financial assistance through its disaster response agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Centro added that it was a consolation that the death toll was minimal given that the city was in the direct path of the typhoon. However, the physical destruction was enormous.
A local government assessment showed that as of Wednesday, 23,738 houses were destroyed while 19,424 were damaged. Odette’s trail of destruction affected 50,957 families.
“We need to pray even harder. Nasa Diyos ang awa at nasa tao ang gawa kaya dapat na magkaisa tayo para sa kapakanan na atin kapwa na ngayon ay sayang kailangan ng ating tulong at panalangin,” Pacquiao pointed out.
In conclusion, the eight-division world champion, who is also a Christian pastor, reiterated the need to pray and be hopeful for things to get better because God is always there for all who have faith in him. (ai/mtvn)