PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday sought a deal with drug companies for cheap nonprescription flu medicines for victims of Typhoon Nalgae (Paeng), as the death toll hit 110.
Mr. Marcos, who flew to Maguindanao del Norte province in the country’s south, said medicines were not being prioritized in disaster response.
“We can make arrangements with the big drug companies to buy [medicines] in bulk at cheap prices,” he told Social Welfare Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo at a briefing.
Before Mr. Marcos’ order, Mr. Tulfo said the agency would distribute health kits including paracetamol, cough syrup and tablets, as well as fever syrup for children.
Several areas in Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte were still submerged in floodwater, according to the local disaster agency.
Seventy-nine deaths had been confirmed including 59 in the autonomous region of Bangsamoro, two in Soccsksargen and 18 in Western Visayas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a bulletin (NDRRMC).
Thirty-one deaths were still being confirmed including 12 in the Calabarzon region, five in Eastern Visayas, four each in Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula, two in Mimaropa, one each in Bicol, Central Visayas, Soccsksargen and the Cordillera Administrative Region, it said.
The agency said 69 people had been injured, while 63 were still missing. The typhoon affected 2.42 million people from 741,777 families in 70 provinces.
Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu told the briefing led by Mr. Marcos the local government was still conducting search and rescue operations.
He said 622,605 people from 124,501 families in 30 of the 36 municipalities and 370 out of the 508 villages in the province had been affected by Nalgae, which made landfall in the country at least five times.
Ten bridges in the province were damaged, one of which would have made relief efforts to Cotabato province, which is 114.5 kilometers away from Maguindanao, easier.
Nalgae, which left the Philippines on Monday afternoon, caused P12.4 million in housing damage.
Many businesses incurred additional losses after the typhoon led to brownouts, forcing some establishments to use fossil fuel generators to continue their operations during the storm.
NDRRMC said brownouts had been experienced in 294 cities and municipalities, while water supply disruptions were felt in 17 areas.
Meanwhile, the state weather bureau said Queenie, which entered the Philippines on Sunday, had weakened from a tropical storm into a tropical depression as of 8 am on Tuesday.
Queenie’s maximum sustained winds had weakened to 45 kilometers from 65 kilometers per hour (kph), it said in an 11 a.m. bulletin. Its gustiness also fell to 55 kph from 80 kph as it moved westward.
Queenie may lose the characteristics of a tropical cyclone within 12 hours, it added.
Queenie brought light to moderate with at times heavy rains over Caraga and Davao Oriental in southern Philippines, the agency said, adding that flooding and rain-induced landslides were possible.
It added that moderate to rough seas could prevail over the eastern seaboard of Mindanao, which may be risky for those using small seacraft.
Mr. Marcos asked Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan to set up a district office in the Bangsamoro region so it would be easier to repair damaged bridges and roads.
“Why is there no district office in [the Bangsamoro]?” Mr. Marcos asked. “You should look into that because it will make everything much easier.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza