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ARMM sends more aid to 'Yolanda' victims

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao lights a “peace and solidarity torch” as a symbolic gesture showing the unity of the Moro and Christian communities in Southern Philippines with victims of super typhoon Yolanda during Tuesday’s send off rite in Cotabato City for another batch of relief workers bound for Leyte bringing with them additional 20 more tons of relief and medical supplies. JOHN UNSON

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The Humanitarian Emergency Assistance Relief Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Tuesday shipped 20 more tons of additional relief supplies to typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas.

The shipment was accompanied by another batch of Moro and Christian medics and rehabilitation experts to replace the team sent to Leyte last week by the inter-agency HEART, which operates under the joint supervision of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Regional Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia.

The convoy carrying the relief supplies --- include medicines, food packs, hygiene kits, sleeping mats, and water containers --- departed from Cotabato City en route to Leyte via Surigao City in Northern Mindanao at past 9 a.m. Tuesday after ARMM officials and employees lit a symbolic “peace and solidarity torch” at the ARMM compound to symbolize "Moro fraternalism" with victims of typhoon Yolanda regardless of their tribal identities and religions.

The torch lighting event capped the ceremonial send off for the convoy carrying the relief supplies, and the medical and social welfare workers from across the autonomous region. It also marked the start of the “Morolympics,” a sports intramurals among employees of different regional offices as part of the ARMM’s 24th anniversary celebration.

The ARMM government was among the local and international organizations that were first to dispatch medics and rehabilitation experts to Leyte immediately after the deadly typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) onslaught.

Hataman, in a message, appealed to ARMM residents to continue supporting the relief and rehabilitation efforts for typhoon-stricken areas in the Visayas.

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The regional health secretary of ARMM, physician Kadil Sinolinding Jr., who led the first batch of combined Moro and Christian medics dispatched by HEART to the Visayas, said they have established makeshift rural health facilities in several barangays in Tolosa town in Leyte.

The clinics are now serving sick and injured typhoon victims, according to Sinolinding.

"We have facilitated surgeries and other medical interventions for many of them, more than 2,000 of them, during our initial relief operations,” said Sinolinding, whose team arrived in Leyte last weekend.

Hataman said the HEART relief workers and medics are working in coordination with the Department of Health.

Hataman said he is grateful to his constituent-Moro communities, the regional departments and support offices under the region’s executive department, and various cause-oriented groups for helping send the first and second HEART humanitarian missions to Leyte.

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