The acting governor led the delegation that traveled by land from Pampanga and brought much-needed food, water, medical supplies, doctors and other volunteers.
At the port in Matnog town, Sorsogon, local residents said Pineda’s team “was the biggest group to Leyte we had seen thus far at the port and there were so many trucks.”
Barcelona Mayor Manuel Fortes and Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee assisted the Pampanga group for a “quick entry” at the busy Matnog port.
“If not for Mayor Fortes and Governor Lee,” Pineda said, “the 58 hours of travel from Pampanga we took to Leyte would have been longer.” The usual land travel from Pampanga to Leyte is 24 hours.
The official count of Pineda’s team: 131 people, including seven doctors and three high-ranking Pampanga capitol officials, onboard 26 vehicles, 16 of which were trucks.
Angie Blanco, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Pampanga, said they brought 24,000 packs of relief goods, medicine for 2,000 people, 24 makeshift tents and other necessary items, such as clothes and cook wares.
Pineda also left two portable water purifiers for use by the people of Javier, Leyte, last week. The equipment, manned by six Pampanga government workers during their relief mission, would continuously provide potable water to residents of several Leyte towns and cities, including Tacloban City.
PINEDA and Javier Mayor Leonardo Javier, who hosted the delegation, initially facilitated the release of 800 water containers. With the help of Javier’s friends, Pineda and the Leyte mayor brought in at least 5,200 more containers. Each container had a capacity of at least 2.5 gallons.
Blanco said they stayed in Javier as the town mayor was designated by Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla to take charge of the distribution of relief goods and assistance in 20 towns, most of which were in the north portion of the province.
Blanco said they assisted the officials and residents of the towns of Javier, La Paz, Pastrana, Barugo, Dagami and Capoocan. She said the towns had not been given relief goods yet when they were in Leyte.
Blanco said they were gathering relief goods and other forms of assistance from Pampanga towns and cities for delivery to the Eastern Visayas province.
Gov. Lilia Pineda, Apalit Mayor Jun Tetangco, who is the president of the Pampanga Mayors League, Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab, Pampanga Social Welfare chief Elizabeth Estiller-Baybayan, and Santa Rita police chief Sr. Insp. Mike Masangkay, head of the 25-men security of the delegation, were also instrumental in the success of the mission.
“We are deeply touched by the help of Pampanga. We know we have friends there. We hope to help them, too, but not in the same manner,” said Javier, who is also the national president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.
“I know that the people of Pampanga have a heart for those stricken by disaster,” he said.
Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee, sister of President Aquino, came to visit Javier and his constituents. She brought medicine and relief goods.
The President’s sister thanked the Pampanga doctors, led by Marcelo Jaochico, for the medical mission. The other doctors, included Romulo Lacson, Arturo Panganiban, Danilo Naguit, Zenon Ponce, Jay Rivera and Paul Baltazar.
At least 2,000 people were treated by the Pampanga medical team.
Rivera, a neurosurgeon and general surgeon, said some of those they operated on had punctured wounds.
“They needed immediate attention because their wounds might have been infected and they might suffer from tetanus if they were not treated properly,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the residents were wounded as they tried to flee the winds of the strongest typhoon ever recorded in the world this year.
“The majority of them were wounded after they stepped on galvanized iron sheets and nails,” he said.
Jaime Puzon of Tacloban City, who sought shelter at the house of a relative in Javier, said his 3-year-old son was wounded when he stepped on a sharp object as they climbed the roof of an evacuation center in the city at the height of the super typhoon on November 8.
“I am glad my son was treated by the Pampanga doctors. There was no hospital or doctor in Tacloban several days after the tragedy,” Puzon said.
More than 5,200 are reported dead and at least 1,613 remained missing in one of the worst natural tragedies ever to hit the Philippines.
At the end of the eight-day mission of the Pampanga delegation, Pineda took time out to pray at the damaged chapel of Barangay Santa Cruz in Javier town.
Pineda didn’t tell Mike Javier, son of the Javier mayor who accompanied him in Santa Cruz, what he prayed for.
The acting governor, who is known to be soft-spoken, told the village folk: “I shall return to help you more.”