Aquino hails outpouring of aid for flood victims

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday expressed elation at the outpouring of support from local government, international sources and the private sector, as he assured thousands of families displaced by floods in Metro Manila, central and southern Luzon of a "permanent solution" to their woes.

"If we have tragedies like this, there are many of our countrymen who go out of their way to help even without us asking for it," Mr. Aquino said, as he thanked Isabela Vice Gov. Rodolfo Albano III for donating at least 1,000 cavans of rice and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for dispatching 35 rescue personnel to areas devastated by days of monsoon rain.

Speaking before evacuees at Sta. Lucia High School in Capas town, Tarlac province, the President also expressed his gratitude to San Miguel Corp. and Yokohama for their donations, and cited Shell and Petron for suspending increase in the prices of their oil products in areas affected by the floods.

"The good news is that while crude prices in the world market are rising, companies like Shell and Petron volunteered, I repeat, volunteered, to delay any scheduled increase in the prices of their products to commiserate with our countrymen," he said.

Mr. Aquino, who flew to Tarlac with some Cabinet secretaries by helicopter, assured the 105 evacuee families in Barangay Sta. Lucia that the government has adequate funds to address emergencies like this.

"We're looking for permanent solutions. The Balog-Balog Dam is designed for irrigation and flood control, too. Hopefully, within two weeks the plan will be presented to us so that the process can be started, and eventually it will be built and floods can be mitigated," he said.

He said the construction of the P15 billion (S$448.5 million) mega dam in Tarlac would be under way in July this year. Expected to be operational by 2016, the dam will be 113.5 meters high from the riverbed to the crest and will have a water storage capacity of 625 million cubic meters, irrigation officials said.

The presidential team also motored to the Apulid evacuation centre in Paniqui, Tarlac, after heavy rains forced their helicopters to land at the Luisita exit of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway in Paniqui at around 9 a.m. on Friday.

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