MANILA, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Defense Secretary and National Disaster Coordinating Council chairman Gilberto Teodoro on Monday appealed for international assistance in the wake of the tropical storm "Ketsana," which has left 140 deal till Monday night.
At a press conference at the NDCC office in Camp Aguinaldo, Teodoro said he was making the appeal on the authority of President Arroyo. He said he and other cabinet officials consulted her on the matter after making an assessment of the storm's effects.
Residents transport their motorcycle and pedicab using a canoe in floodwaters brought on by typhoon Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, in Sta Rosa Laguna south of Manila September 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) Photo Gallery>>>
Earlier, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administrator head Frisco Nilo said they have monitored a low pressure area in the eastern part of the country or at the Pacific Ocean. He said this may hit Central and Northern Luzon by Friday.
"Based on our assessment, we cannot wait that a theoretical event may or may not happen. We will assume that the weather disturbance happens and if that happens, our emergency response will be severely delayed," Teodoro said.
He said he, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, and Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap made a consultation with the President.
Residents ride in a canoe in floodwaters brought on by typhoon Ketsana, locally known as Ondoy, past a petrol station in Sta Rosa Laguna south of Manila September 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) Photo Gallery>>>
"And the President authorized me, as chairman of the National Coordinating Council-- given the fact that our emergency response efforts may be severely affected.. if the weather disturbance which Dr. Nilo talked about, which we have to assume for planning purposes, will happen, thus occur -- to ask, to request the international humanitarian community for assistance on behalf of the government of the Philippines," said Teodoro.
"We are requesting the office of the United Nations resident coordinator to coordinate on behalf of the government of the Philippines an international appeal and I have just authorized sending out of a flash appeal for assistance," added Teodoro.
Teodoro said that he will send a letter late "within the day" to the UN resident coordinator for international humanitarian assistance."
"We cannot really leave it too long and if we wait and events proved to be correct in accordance with predictions, we may be too late so we are requesting that (internal assistance) today with the concurrence, under the authority given to us by the President," he said.
"This is for the National Capital Region and Region IV-A for the effects of tropical storm Ketsana or tropical storm Ondoy," said Teodoro, of the call for internal assistance. The two regions are the areas worst hit by Ondoy.
When asked how serious is the problem to warrant an internal appeal for assistance, Teodoro said: "Well, the situation really is serious. Its obvious and we cannot really hide the fact and we are trying our level best to provide basic necessities but the potential for a more serious situation is there and we cannot wait for that to happen."
"We declared already a state of calamity, that already shows that the situation is serious," said Teodoro.
Cabral said they would welcome assistance from the internal community in cash or in kind. She said that when the government sounded for an international help several years back, some countries donated food and non-food items like generators.
Teodoro also reported that the death toll from "Ketsana" has risen to 140. He said 32 others are missing and four were injured.
He said the number of affected persons is now 453,033, of which 115,990 were displaced. He said 558 houses were damaged.
"The unofficial cost of damages is 1.4 billion pesos (29.6 million U.S. dollars)," he said. Of the amount, he said 1.3 billion pesos (27.5 million U.S. dollars) were incurred by roads and bridges while 19.2 million pesos (400,000 U.S. dollars) comprised the damaged school buildings.
A man rides on an air mattress in flooded areas caused by Storm Ketsana in Cainta suburbs, Rizal province of the Philippines on Sept. 27, 2009.(Xinhua/Luis Liwanag) Photo Gallery>>>