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Palace says it’s more important for state of calamity to be declared at the local level

Residents recover the body of a victim after Typhoon Haiyan hit the municipality of Coron, Palawan province in central Philippines November 9, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever to hit land, has devastated the central Philippine city of Tacloban, killing at least 100 people and destroying most houses in a surge of flood water and high winds, officials said on Saturday. The toll of death and damage is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers and soldiers reach areas cut off by the massive storm, now barreling out of the Philippines towards Vietnam. (MNS photo)

Residents recover the body of a victim after Typhoon Haiyan hit the municipality of Coron, Palawan province in central Philippines November 9, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm ever to hit land, has devastated the central Philippine city of Tacloban, killing at least 100 people and destroying most houses in a surge of flood water and high winds, officials said on Saturday. The toll of death and damage is expected to rise sharply as rescue workers and soldiers reach areas cut off by the massive storm, now barreling out of the Philippines towards Vietnam. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 11 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Monday said it is more important for local government units affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) to declare a state of calamity in their respective areas, than for the national government to do so.

Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras said local government units that do so at their level can do many things that will speed up the delivery of relief goods and services.

“I think it’s more important for local governments to declare it. That’s one of the things we explained to the mayors yesterday. A lot of cities and municipalities as early as Saturday declared a state of emergency. The minute they declare a state of emergency, it allows them to do so many things,” Almendras said at a media briefing.

Also, he said his focus now is to make sure the Cabinet and different government agencies can work together to address the needs of those affected by Yolanda.

Almendras likewise said that the national government is now trying to find ways to send power generators of the Commission on Elections to Yolanda-affected areas.

He said the Comelec agreed to lend the national government some generators that were supposedly for recent elections but went unused.

The generators are needed to power key facilities, including communication equipment so residents in affected areas can contact their loved ones.

Almendras also said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is trying to arrange for trips between Manila and Tacloban City, as commercial flights between the two points are still difficult.

He added that clearing is ongoing in key roads so goods can be moved to the affected areas in Capiz.

On the other hand, Almendras said two tanker trucks are expected to reach Tacloban City within the day.

Almendras reiterated that now is not the time for fault-finding or finger-pointing, although suggestions and constructive comments on how to improve the delivery of relief goods and services are very welcome.

“Suggestions and comments are very welcome. We do not claim brilliance, na alam namin ang lahat na solution. Pero ipagtatanggol namin ang tao namin in thefield. Napaka-unfair ang criticisms sa people who are trying to help (Suggestions and comments are always welcome. We do not claim brilliance or to know all the solutions. But we have to defend our people in the field. Some criticism against them are unfair because they are trying to help),” he said. (MNS)

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