-ANI): Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared a state of national calamity following the devastation brought by Typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo) in Southern Philippines, a senior government official said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, in an interview over state-run radio station, said that Aquino signed Proclamation No. 522 declaring a state of national calamity Friday night after he returned from a visit in typhoon-stricken Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces.
"The declaration of a state of national calamity will hasten the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts of the government and the private sector, including any international humanitarian assistance, and will effectively control the prices of basic goods and commodities for the affected areas," the Proclamation said.
Valte said that price control covers only the areas, which were severely damaged by the weather disturbance. These include the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte in Region XI; Surigao del Sur in CARAGA Region; Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro City in Region X; Siquijor in Region VII; and, Palawan in Region IV-B.
The Proclamation said that the declaration also necessitates that the mechanisms for international humanitarian assistance are implemented pursuant to the "Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010", and will further afford the local government units ample latitude to utilize their respective calamity funds for the rescue, relief and rehabilitation of their constituents.
The latest data released on Saturday by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that death toll hit 456, while 533 were still missing.
The estimated cost of damage in infrastructure, agriculture and private properties stood at 4 billion pesos (about 1 billion U.S. dollars). (Xinhua-ANI)