The Daily Manila Shimbun


Duterte orders Cabinet officials to go to provinces to be hit by “Ompong”

September 13, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte designated on Thursday Francis Tolentino, his political adviser, as his "conduit" in overseeing the government's action as Typhoon "Ompong" started to affect the country.

Duterte made the announcement during a command conference of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council at military's headquarters in Quezon City.

"May I ask Atty. Tolentino, Francis just to be my conduit," he said.

"I maybe around somewhere, I may decide to go out I really do not know so it's us (who will coordinate),” he said.

In a media interview after the command conference, Duterte said that Tolentino would go to areas affected by the weather disturbance.

"I think he is going to go there also. But more of just observe the operations because everything is okay. Everything that needs to be done is already there," Duterte said.

"So all he has to do is to report to me the progress of the --- whatever is being presented by the typhoon there in those places," he added.

Duterte said he might go to Davao City during the weekend, when the typhoon is expected to make a landfall in northern Luzon, as he has to attend to other matters also.

The President also ordered two of his Cabinet officials who came from northern Luzon to personally check the situation there.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III came from Cagayan and Isabela, respectively, two of the provinces in the north which could be hit by Ompong.

"Anything could go wrong outside of the projection...the best way to preposition, the most accurate way of finding out of what really happened is for Tugade, who is from Cagayan, and Bello, come from Isabela, to go home by now and watch their own province,” he said.

He said his Cabinet officials will be his face in those areas to be struck by the typhoon.

Asked if he would ask the international help just in case, the President said, "It would depend on the severity of the crisis. If it flattens everything, maybe we need to have some help."

So far, he said he was satisfied with the preparation of the various government agencies for the coming of the typhoon.

He said the government has earmarked close to P2 billion that could be spent to assist the areas to be affected by Ompong.

The state weather forecasting agency said that as of 5pm Thursday Ompong maintained its strength as it threatens northern Luzon.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 205 kph and gusts of up to 255kph, Ompong is expected to make a landfall in Cagayan on Saturday morning. Celerina Monte/DMS