STRIKE A POSE. President Rodrigo Duterte (center) strikes his signature pose with Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino (extreme left), Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones (2nd from left), Leyte Governor Leopoldo Petilla (3rd from left), Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista (3rd from right), Interior Secretary Eduardo Año (2nd from right), and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go (extreme right) during the distribution of benefits to former rebels at the San Isidro Central School in Leyte on Thursday (Jan. 23, 2020). The Chief Executive also distributed PHP78 million in financial assistance to 21 towns and cities in Leyte province hit by Typhoon Ursula last month. (Presidential photo by Valerie Escalera)

SAN ISIDRO, Leyte — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday night led the distribution of PHP78 million in financial assistance to 21 towns and cities in Leyte province that were hit by Typhoon Ursula last month.

Duterte handed a check worth PHP3 million to each of the 21 town mayors who attended the event at the San Isidro Civic Center here. The provincial government received PHP10 million and Tacloban City, PHP5 million.

Recipients were the towns of Alangalang, Babatngon, Palo, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Tanauan, Tolosa, Barugo, Capoocan, Carigara, Jaro, Pastrana, Tunga, Calubian, Leyte, San Isidro, Tabango, Villaba, Kananga, Matag –ob, and Palompon.

Several local government units have placed their towns under a state of calamity, but Leyte’s provincial board passed a resolution on Dec. 26, 2019, putting the entire province under such status.

Concerned by the extent of the devastation, Tacloban City was also placed under a state of calamity in a special session last December 27, just three days after “Ursula” crossed the region.

The distribution of checks to typhoon-hit areas was held on the sidelines of the presentation of benefits to 262 former rebels in Leyte.

The provision of assistance is part of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for rebels who returned to the fold of the law.

The President urged local government officials to continue to be active as heads of the local task force on ending local communist armed conflict.

“Your contribution is vital to the progress of our goal here. I hope that our progress will continue through our government programs to someday put an end to the communist insurgency, as well as bring peace and prosperity to our communities,” Duterte said. (PNA)