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30/09/2009: DFA Expedites Processing of Assistance from International Community for Flood Victims

29 September 2009 – Upon the instructions of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued instructions to all Philippine embassies and consulates general to facilitate the immediate processing of donations and assistance from the international community, including overseas Filipino community groups for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy. The donations will be coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

In response, Philippine embassies and consulate officials have mobilized community groups within their respective areas. In Riyadh, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio P. Villamor called on the Filipino community to help drumbeat the noble task of gathering support from various sectors in the Kingdom for the benefit of Filipino victims within the next ten days.

Ambassador Villamor and embassy staff have pitched in their share while a donation box was placed in the Chancery for clients to drop in whatever amount they can spare.

“The opportunity to show our character as a helpful and resilient people is here and now, so let us focus on putting up a concerted effort to channel needed support with greater effectiveness and efficiency,” the Ambassador remarked. “Given the widespread media coverage on the plight of our countrymen who have suffered such a calamity, we hope we can also be joined in this undertaking by our Saudi friends and those from other expatriate communities.”

Earlier, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa encouraged the Filipino community in the United States to extend relief assistance to the victims of Typhoon Ondoy that brought havoc to Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces in Northern Luzon.

“I encourage members of the Filipino community in the United States to extend their support to the flood-stricken victims of Typhoon Ondoy. Let this moment be a time of giving, solidarity and oneness for our people and a chance to manifest the Filipinos’ resiliency in the face of calamity,” Ambassador Gaa said.

The DFA also welcomed the immediate response and generous assistance extended by the country’s partners in the international community.

In New York, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveyed to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo the assurance of assistance from the UN and the international community.

United Nations Undersecretary General John Holmes, who also heads the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), informed Secretary Romulo that OCHA personnel are assisting in relief operations in Manila and that additional personnel based in Bangkok are on their way to the Philippines to assess the situation and give recommendations on the kind of assistance that is required.

Undersecretary General Holmes said his agency is ready to coordinate international humanitarian assistance and is looking into the possibility of utilizing the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)—a humanitarian fund established by the UN to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts.

Similarly, the United States, China, Japan, Singapore and Australia have extended humanitarian assistance.

Washington sent US$50,000 for the relief efforts, China pitched in US$10,000, while Singapore raised US$30,000 and a further US$20,000 in seed money to jumpstart a donations drive by the Singapore Red Cross.

An additional US$50,000 from the US Agency for International Development raised their total donation to US$100,000. US Navy personnel are assisting the Armed Forces of the Philippines with search and rescue efforts in Cainta and Pasig.

China donated US$10,000 for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy. “The damages caused by incessant rains and unexpected floods were heartbreaking. The Chinese Government and people were saddened by loss of lives and have deep sympathy with the Philippine Government and people,” Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said in a statement. Ambassador Liu said the fund will be channeled to the Philippine National Red Cross.

The Japanese Government stated that it would send $220,000 worth of relief goods to the Philippines. In a letter to the Philippines, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuyo Okada expressed his “heartfelt sympathy” for the loss of life and serious damage to infrastructure in Metro Manila and other regions.

Singapore will send humanitarian relief supplies worth US$30,000 to the Philippine and will also contribute US$20,000 as seed money to kickstart the Singapore Red Cross’ drive for donations for those affected by the disaster.

The Philippine Embassy in Canberra likewise reported to the DFA that Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Minister for International Development Assistance Bob McMullan committed A$1 million to support response and recovery activities. Australia’s contribution will help with relief operations, including emergency supplies of drinking water, clothing, hygiene kits and related essential items delivered through agencies on the ground, including the Philippine National Red Cross. It also stands ready to offer further assistance if additional needs are identified by the Philippine government.

The UN World Health Organization earlier announced a $42,000 relief fund.

The officers and staff of the Embassy of Canada in Manila raised funds among themselves and friends and donated US$50,000 for the victims of the tropical storm.

The DFA continues to mobilize Philippine embassies and consulates generals in the government’s relief operations for Filipinos affected by the calamity. END