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Arroyo Asks Filipino Expats To Aid Typhoon Victims

PGMA calls on Filipinos abroad to extend assistance to typhoon victims

Manila (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has called on all Filipinos abroad to extend assistance to victims of typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen).

In her opening statement from Fresno, California before presiding over a video conference with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Malacanang early Monday, the President said "ngayon may pangangailangan na naman, inaasahan ang tulong ng gustong tumulong."

As such, she directed Philippine embassies in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Asia, among others, to open a disaster relief donation accounts where Filipinos abroad could send in their assistance to typhoon victims.

She also instructed the NDCC to open a donation account for those who would want to give assistance, including a website and a mobile number where Filipinos could be updated on the typhoon situation.

President Arroyo assured that government assistance will be given to victims of the ill-fated vessel.

The M/V Princess of the Stars capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon on Saturday carrying more than 700 passengers and crew after being battered by huge waves.

Reports said the vessel encountered engine trouble, lost power, and was "dead in the water."

Pending results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), President Arroyo has ordered that no vessel should be allowed to sail "if it would pass typhoon path."

During the NDCC meeting, Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza reported to the President that he has ordered the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to ground all vessels of Sulpicio Lines and check the sea worthiness of all ships following the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars which was owned by the Sulpicio Lines.

He also said they are organizing the Board of Marine Inquiry to investigate the incident where at least 700 persons are still missing as of Sunday night.

On the other hand, Vice President Noli de Castro told the President that he has ordered the formation of a task force to investigate the ferry's sinking.

Even in the US for a 10-day state visit, the President is closely monitoring the situation in the Philippines being battered by super typhoon Frank.

Before leaving on Saturday evening, she ordered the whole Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) into a relief-and-rescue standby mode.

"The Air Force, including the Presidential Airlift Wing, are under orders to fly mercy missions, when the need arises," she said.

President Arroyo also ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) into a repair-and-rehabilitation footing so work on damaged infrastructure can begin once the weather clears up.

She instructed the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to "forward-deploy" resources to areas on typhoon path.

-- By Lilybeth G. Ison

ENDS

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