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Power restoration may take 2 months in worst-hit areas in Cagayan: CEZA chief

By: ABS-CBN News

The devastation of typhoon Ompong is seen at the entrance of Port Irene in the municipality of Sta. Ana, Cagayan province on July 16, 2018. Typhoon Ompong, this year’s strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines, ravaged parts of Northern Luzon over the weekend. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Full restoration of power lines in some areas in Cagayan could take up to two months as typhoon Ompong (Manghkut) toppled most electric posts in the area, an official said Wednesday.

The first and second districts of Cagayan were hit hardest during the typhoon, Cagayan Special Economic Zone (CEZA) Administrator and Presidential Adviser to Northern Luzon Raul Lambino told ABS-CBN News.

He feared that the outages might affect business operations.

“The power supply is gone because most of the electric posts, they all fell down. Matatagalan siguro yan (It could take a while), it could take maybe two months or shorter to restore power in those areas that are severely affected,” the former chief of staff of now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said.

“Ang kinatatakot ko ngayon (What I’m worried about) with the disaster that happened in Cagayan, baka mag slow down yung operations ng ibang [CEZA] locators namin. Yun lang ang fear ko dyan (the operations of some of our locators may slow down),” he said.

Airports and ports in Northern Luzon were already operational but Lambino stressed “there is much to be done” to improve the infrastructure.

The “dilapidated” pier of Port Irene, for example, needs to be retrofitted to accommodate bigger vessels and cruise ships, while the runway of the Cagayan North International Airport in Tuguegarao could be extended to accommodate bigger planes, Lambino said.

He said he would ask the Congress for an allocation in the 2019 budget to renovate the pier in Port Irene.

“Unang unang tiningnan ko [paglipas ng bagyo], ano na kayang nangyari sa pier kasi dilapidated na yung columns. (The first thing I looked at was the pier because its columns are already dilapidated). Hopefully, Congress will approve our budget, I’m going to ask Congress to appropriate because this is very vital,” he said.

Lambino said he mobilized the business community for relief operations.

CEZA is now working with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Employers Confederation Of the Philippines (ECOP), the Andres Tamayo Foundation as well as CEZA locators in sending relief goods directly to the affected residents in Northern Luzon.

Lambino also stressed the importance of revisiting mining laws. He cited a Philippine Responsible Mining bill, patterned after the “stringent” laws in Canada, which was filed by Mrs. Arroyo when she was still in detention.

“I am always an environmentalist. It has to be balanced with sustainable and responsible business operation. I have nothing against mining operations but it has to be done the right way. There is such a thing as responsible mining,” Lambino said.

By: Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News –

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