The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced Saturday, September 15, that New People’s Army (NPA) units are ready to conduct humanitarian activities for victims of Typhoon “Ompong”.
“The NPA and all revolutionary forces in North and Central Luzon, as well as in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, are geared to carry out rescue, relief and rehabilitation work for millions of people whose homes and livelihood were ravaged by strong winds and rains brought about by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said in a statement.
The CPP said that while remaining vigilant over “relentless” offensive operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local NPA commands shall primarily concentrate in civic action amid the disaster in the next few days.
The CPP announcement was issued even as tropical cyclone “Ompong” (International name: Mangkhut) is still barrelling across extreme northern Luzon, packing sustained winds of around 205 kilometers per hours (kph) and gusts of up to 285 kph.
“Ompong” made landfall at 1:40 am at the rice-producing town of Baggao in Cagayan Province and moved west-northwest at a speed of 25 kph after hitting the Sierra Madre mountain range.
Billions of pesos in damages to crops are expected as rice and corn, both major crops in Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Abra and Ilocos Sur, have yet to be harvested before “Ompong” ravaged the area.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has yet to announce any casualty from the typhoon.
As of 1 pm Saturday, the typhoon has weakened and its center was located off the coast of Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.
The typhoon’s path closely followed the trajectory of Supertyphoon “Lawin” which hit the same area in late 2016, killing eight victims and causing an estimated P60 billion in damages to crops and properties.
Extending all help
In light of the widespread destruction, the CPP urged the Filipino people and international humanitarian agencies “to unite and extend all possible help to address the welfare of the people. “
“[The CPP] urges all democratic sectors to establish Serve the People brigades to help collect and distribute relief assistance. The broad masses of workers, peasants, minority people, fisherfolk and other basic sectors suffer the most from the damage wrought by typhoon Ompong,” the CPP said.
The revolutionary group added there is urgent need to mobilize peoples and groups to facilitate the entry and equitable distribution of all financial and material assistance.
The CPP warned that rampant corruption and inefficiencies by the government may hijack relief operations, as when Supertyphoons Pablo, Sendong, Yolanda and Lawin devastated large parts of the country in recent years.
The group also urged the Rodrigo Duterte government to implement wage increases, land distribution, cancellation of debt, agricultural subsidies, free irrigation and livelihood assistance and economic relief to help the victims. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)