Gazmin to soldiers on criticized gov't response to Yolanda: Don't lose heart
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2013 - 7:16pm

MANILA, Philippines - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Friday called on soldiers not to lose heart over criticisms against the government’s response to the impact of typhoon “Yolanda.”

In a speech delivered during the commissioning of Navy warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz in Manila, Gazmin reminded the soldiers about the important role they play as the country faces the aftermath of the disaster.

“There are some groups who are fostering negativity on purpose to discredit each action the government takes and to render meaningless, the determination of soldiers, policemen and even volunteers who are quietly doing their part and working to help their countrymen,” Gazmin said.

“I hope that you will not lose your resolve. I hope that you will not lose heart. You are the ones at the frontline, and you know what is true,” he added.

Gazmin noted that soldiers are the ones who dig the bodies of those who lost their lives to provide them with decent burial.

“You are the ones caring for victims who need first aid, you are the ones hauling the sacks of rice that need to be brought to affected communities, you are the companions of families who needs someone to lean on, to guide them as they learn to stand on their own feet once again and turn their backs on the nightmare of this tragedy,” he said. 

“At times like this, there is no room for you to doubt what you have done because you know that your countrymen need you, you must not let them down.”

Gazmin gave assurance that the military would continue to work together to help those affected by the typhoon to recover.

The defense chief made the statement after the government got heavily criticized for the supposed lapses in disaster preparations and response efforts.

Critics said the relief operations were disorganized, inadequate and even marred by politics. They also claimed that the devastation of typhoon “Yolanda” highlighted the lack of leadership of President Aquino. 

BRP Alcaraz sails to Tacloban

BRP Alcaraz yesterday sailed towards Tacloban for its maiden mission – to assist in the relief operations in the typhoon-ravaged city.

The vessel transported about 200 tons of relief items from different government agencies, non-government organizations and private groups.

BRP Alcaraz is expected to arrive in Tacloban on Sunday

“BRP Alcaraz will serve as the command and control of the Armed Forces humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in Samar-Leyte area and will also assist in monitoring relief and rehabilitation efforts of foreign armed forces in typhoon-stricken areas,” Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic said.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano said the ship will be deployed to the West Philippine Sea after the relief operations in Tacloban are completed.

“She (BRP Alcaraz) will be utilize to undertake missions for territorial defense, law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and diasster response, aside from her current capabilities, she'll be augmented with naval helicopters which will be arriving next month to expand her surveiance and horizon,” Alano said.

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