Tabang Bicol: Relief and Rehabilitation Drive for victims of Super Typhoon RollyPH

by Sagip Kanayunan and Tulong Anakpawis

Super typhoon RollyPH (international name Goni), 2020’s strongest typhoon was more powerful than the catastrophic super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that struck the Philippines in 2013. RollyPH is the strongest tropical cyclone observed worldwide for 2020 and one of the most intense tropical cyclones on record.

Goni started as a weak tropical depression southwest of Guam on October 26. The following day, on October 27, it explosively intensified over the Philippine Sea. Goni was named by weather bureau PAGASA as RollyPH as soon as it entered the Philippine area of responsibility on October 29. On October 30, it became a Category 5-strength extremely powerful tropical cyclone. Even the Joint Typhoon Warning Center categorized RollyPH as a super typhoon with its catastrophic wind strength. Throughout October 31, RollyPH maintained its strength as it approached the Bicol region. PAGASA also warned of imminent violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall. Typhoon warning signals were hoisted over 46 provinces and areas.  

On November 1, super typhoon RollyPH made its first landfall in the vicinity of Bato, Catanduanes as it roared with sustained winds of 220 km/h and sustained gusts of 315 km/h. It made several landfalls on Tiwi in Albay, San Francisco in Quezon, and Lobo in Batangas. On November 2, it weakened into a tropical storm over the West Philippine Sea off the coasts of Bataan.

The Aftermath of a Super Typhoon 

Storm surges inundated coastal towns, swelling and flooded rivers overflowed, and heavy rainfall triggered volcanic mudflows especially in towns around the Mt. Mayon in Albay province.

Filipinos are even more vulnerable now because of COVID-19 with the streamlined disaster frontliners and health protocols being observed. Worse, the government is saying that funds for calamity and quick reaction are almost depleted.   

As of November 3, authorities reported at least 20 deaths in the hard-hit provinces of Albay and Catanduanes, as most of the victims died due to drowning. A father and son were trapped by the mudflow, while another villager was pinned by a fallen tree. Several villagers remain missing and believed to be buried alive as lahar and forest debris engulfed an estimate of 300 houses in Barangay Travesia in Guinobatan, Albay. Guinobatan residents point to quarrying as the cause of the flash floods that inundated several villages.

Flash floods and heavy mudflow from Mt. Mayon destroyed everything on its path including houses, trees, farms, and livestock. The torrential rainfall also resulted in flooding, landslides, and storm surges. The entire Bicol region experiences massive power outages, and as of writing still without electricity and stable communication lines.

As of November 3, the island-province of Catanduanes remains isolated and unreachable. There are still no means to transport any form of relief and assistance from mainland Albay to Catanduanes. The majority of Catanduanes residents are fishing and farming families. Initial reports state that 10,000 to 15,000 families lost their houses in the ravaging typhoon. An estimate of Ph400 million worth of abaca crops was destroyed and an additional Ph200 million worth of other crops – rice, coconut, bananas, other vegetables were also destroyed. The Philippine social welfare department prepositioned a meager 2,000 relief packs in the island-province before RollyPH struck.

Overall, agriculture and coastal towns are the hardest-hit with millions of farmers, fisherfolk, and rural people affected and without livelihood.

(Photos from KMP Bicol of rice fields and their office flooded by RollyPH)

Negligent government worsened Typhoon damages

The Duterte government’s extreme negligence and delayed response all the more worsened Typhoon Rolly’s aftermath and damages currently estimated at Ph7.3-billion. 

In the crucial 48 hours before and as soon the typhoon made landfall and lashed at most parts of Southern Luzon, President Duterte was nowhere to be found while his Cabinet secretaries acted as if there was no emergency and calamity situation. Duterte’s evident absence even prompted netizens to ask #NasaanAngPangulo.

For Filipino farmers and rural people, Duterte himself is the biggest disaster that has befell the Philippines. How can a President stay still and sleep soundly while thousands of Filipinos are trying to survive Typhoon Rolly?

Call for Support and Donations

On top of the effects of the pandemic and several months of militarist lockdown, farmers have to endure the calamitous effects of typhoons all-year-round. The successive typhoons Nika, Ofel, Pepito, and Quinta resulted in billions in agriculture losses.

KMP has activated and mobilized its Oplan Sagip Kanayunan relief and rehabilitation machinery to forewarn peasant communities to prepare, to help monitor the damages and effects of Typhoon Rolly, and to gather support and donation for typhoon-stricken farmers, fisherfolk, and rural families.

QuintaPH resulted in P2.1-billion damages in agriculture. As of November 3, RollyPH reportedly caused an additional damage of P1.75-billion in agriculture and fisheries. Thousands of hectares of rice and corn paddies and vegetable crops were deluged in flood, coconut and other trees fell, and farm animals drowned. It will take several months and even years before farmers and fisherfolk can recover.

Despite its budget amounting to billions of pesos, the Philippine Department of Agriculture can only offer seeds, fingerlings, and loans for farmers and fisherfolk who lost their houses, crops, farm animals, farm, and fishing tools including fishing boats, and sources of livelihood.

KMP is seeking urgent donations and support to aid farmers in need of immediate relief — rice, food, relief packs, hygiene kits, drinking water, clothes, sleeping kits, and medicines. A more long-term rehabilitation effort is also needed and farmers and fisherfolk will need seeds and seedlings, farm tools, farm animals, bancas and fishing equipment, and production subsidies.

For donations, contact Sagip Kanayunan on Facebook   

Please course through your donations to the following:

BPI 0853-0845-49 
Branch: Legazpi, Albay

0936 989 1989

56 K-9th St, Brgy. West Kamias, Quezon City, Philippines

Sining Banwa Harong, Door 4 Ala Compound, Orange Street, Sunrise Subdivision, Cruzada, Legazpi City

Sitio Bololo, Brgy. Zone 5, Libon, Albay

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