Statement of the Department of the Interior and Local Government

November 19, 2020

Where Have You Been?
A Rejoinder to Atty. Wilfredo Garrido

Everyone knew where Secretary Eduardo M. Año of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was before, during, and after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses except lawyer Wilfredo Garrido.

As early as November 9, days before Ulysses struck the country, the Secretary issued Advisories to all LGUs directing them to activate their Emergency Operations Centers and Disaster Monitoring Systems. Prior to landfall on November 11, he spoke on national media outlets advising the public and local government units (LGUs) officials, especially in Bicol, to immediately implement Operation Listo protocols, establish critical preparedness actions, prioritize the prepositioning of supplies, equipment and personnel for immediate response, and brace themselves for the typhoon.

Operation Listo, which provides for protocols to be followed by local chief executives during a disaster, requires them to be present in their respective units, and calls for preemptive evacuation procedures, especially in low-lying areas.

Secretary Año also personally attended and actively participated in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) meeting as the country prepared for “Ulysses.” The NDRRMC meetings are chaired by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and are conducted in Camp Aguinaldo.

Also, the LGUs activated their respective Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) for early warning measures and monitoring of areas susceptible to flood and storm surges. As the typhoon was wreaking havoc, the DILG was conducting information dissemination actions using all media platforms to update the public about typhoon developments.

Immediately after the storm, the Secretary deployed 3,267 personnel from the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection to Cagayan and Isabela provinces to conduct search and rescue, and disaster response operations. Both agencies were put on red alert on the day Ulysses was expected to make landfall.

This was made in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and local government units’ rescue teams. Reserve contingents from other police and fire regional offices were tapped for rapid deployment to augment those already deployed. A total of 363 rescue teams composed of 25,000 PNP officers and 10,147 BFP personnel were dispatched to regions affected in Luzon, including the National Capital Region, to aid affected families and individuals.

These men and women of the LGUs, BFP, and PNP risked their lives to fulfill their sworn duties without much media fanfare or publicity.

As a result, the PNP rescued and evacuated some 104,850 individuals while the BFP rescued and assisted 58,682 individuals. Part of the deployed police equipment to various Ulysses-affected areas were rubber boats and trucks while the deployed fire equipment includes fire trucks, rescue/hazmat trucks, and ambulances. The PNP secured some 13,526 evacuation centers while the BFP monitored 1,861 evacuation centers across the country.

Such massive courses of action would not slip anyone with open eyes. I’d say you did not do your homework when you lapped up the lie that the Secretary was missing in action during this critical period.

Secretary Año was definitely at the right places doing the right actions at the right time. Only a person whose eyes have been blinded by malice or political agenda cannot see. Or as the Bible says, “You have eyes, but you cannot see.”

We strongly condemn your malicious and baseless imputation. For security reasons and to prevent accusations of being “epal” in this time of crisis, the DILG Secretary need not publicize 24/7 his whereabouts and how he does his work. It is not a crime to quietly do your job.

As a retired Armed Forces chief with a solid track record in public service, he has the discipline of a good soldier and the integrity to do his duty especially during disasters. Wala pong inaatrasang trabaho si Secretary. Año. Kahit pa dalawang beses nang nagpositibo sa COVID-19 ay buong husay at buong puso ang kanyang pagseserbisyo sa bayan.

I hope this rejoinder sets the record straight.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson