By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri bookended the holidays by heading to provinces struck by Typhoon Odette, personally delivering rice, groceries, water, face masks, and tents, purchased using personal funds he had originally intended for his advertising budget as a senatorial candidate for the upcoming elections.
“As soon as we saw how Typhoon Odette ravaged Visayas and Mindanao, we decided we would hold off on a month of advertising so we can redirect our funds to purchasing relief goods for our people,” Zubiri said.
“And I am appealing to my fellow candidates, whether for national or local posts, to do the same. I know that advertising is a huge part of everyone’s campaign right now, given the limited movement imposed by the ongoing pandemic, but these concerns are nothing compared to how our people are hungry and homeless in Visayas and Mindanao. They need all the help that we can give.”
Just before Christmas and right after New Year, Zubiri made his way to Visayas and Mindanao to personally deliver 3,200 fifty-kilogram sacks of rice; 3,800 grocery packs; 500 five-gallon jugs of mineral water; 1,200 evacuation tents; and 50,000 face masks to nine provinces and six cities and municipalities, namely Agusan del Norte, Butuan City, Surigao del Norte, Iloilo Province, Iloilo City, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City, Kabankalan City, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro City, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Islands, and Siargao Island.
“We first came headed out to Visayas and Mindanao just a few days before Christmas, and we saw how much our people still needed, in terms of basic necessities like food and water,” Zubiri said. “So we knew we had to come back to bring more help.
“We were in Dinagat and Siargao, and the damage is unbelievable. Anything that hasn’t been reduced to rubble has, at a minimum, been stripped of roofing. Not just houses—even schools, clinics, government offices. Agricultural fields have been destroyed. Entire sectors of livelihoods are gone. There’s a lot to be done in terms of finding long-term solutions and funding recovery and rehabilitation efforts, and we are working on those.
“But there are very urgent needs that we need to attend to at the moment to make sure that our people are fed, clothed, and sheltered. So I hope more candidates can forego some ad spending and donate to communities affected by the typhoon. We’re all running because we want to serve our people, right? Now is the time to do just that.” (ai/mtvn)