News Commentary

Heartbroken Pinoys 'touched' by aid from nations

Cheryl M. Arcibal - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  At a time when Filipinos' hearts are breaking as images of the devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda  (international name Haiyan) showed the magnitude and extent of the calamity, the world's response to the misfortune is somehow easing the pain and is helping the country bounce from the latest tragedy.

Foreign aids have been pouring in from all parts of the world. Norway is the latest country to pledge aid to the Philippines, committing 20 million krones or P140 million to be channeled through the "UN, the Red Cross and other humanitarian organization which have access to the affected areas."

"I want to express sympathy with the Filipino people who have been hit so hard by this disaster. We follow the humanitarian situation in the Philippines closely and will provide further assistance when we get a better overview of the needs," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende in a statement posted on the Norwegian Embassy website.

The statement added that the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection has accepted the invitation from the UN to contribute expertise and resources.

The US, meanwhile, said it is immediately providing $100,000 for relief efforts.

The United Nations World Food Programme said it has allotted $2 million to provide relief to Leyte and Samar provinces, while the UNICEF said 66 tons of emergency supplies are being sent from Copenhagen. Supplies include water purification systems, storage equipment and sanitation supplies.

Sweden Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, meanwhile, tweeted that Stockholm will be sending equipment for emergency communications to the Philippines

Meanwhile, the Facebook page of International Labour Organization Philippines said it will respond "through emergency employment through decent work" for the victims of the calamity.

"The ILO will also ensure that people affected by the super typhoon are not left vulnerable and exploited," said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Philippines director.

Britain Prime Minister David Cameron, in a report by The Independent, said the UK will provide 6 million pounds in emergency aid to Manila.

Germany also pledged 500,000 euros in "immediate aid" to the Philippines. 

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said in a message to President Benigno Aquino III that the EC had  sent a team to assist the Philippine authorities.

The European Union Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection said it is deploying four experts to areas near Cebu and Leyte and will also help assess the plight of the victims of the recent earthquake on the island of Bohol.

Japan, meanwhile, said it is sending a 25-member team, mostly medical personnel, to help following the devastation of typhoon Yolanda. 

Canada also promised to match donations from individual Canadians to help the Philippines, an online report by The Globe and Mail said. The matching fund is besides the 5 million Canadian dollars Ottawa pledged for typhoon victims.

The EU, through its Facebook page European Union to the Philippines, said "plane loads of relief supplies and rescue teams [are] on their way from EU member states."

"In  addition EU Member and the European Union have together already mobilised over P600 million in humanitarian assistance including P170 released yesterday by the EU  humanitarian office ECHO, " the statement said.

Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, in a televised press briefing in Malacañang, also cited assistance such as mobile hospitals and equipment coming from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to help in the rescue efforts.

He also disclosed that he received a call from Hong Kong, whose relations with the Philippines have been strained since 2010 following the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in a bungled hostage rescue attempt in Manila, expressing sympathies over the calamity that struck central Philippines.

The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players' Association (NBPA)  also donated  $250,000 for relief efforts in areas ravaged by typhoon Yolanda.

Meanwhile, instant messaging voice-over Internet Protocol application for smartphones Viber  announced Monday morning that it is allowing Filipino users to call regular or non Viber numbers outside the Philippines for free.

Viber encouraged Filipino users to call  their families abroad and let them know that they are safe.

The outpouring of support and assistance has led Filipino netizens to begin thanking nations, organizations and communities for extending aid  to the Philippines.

Twitter user Genelady Ericka said God will not forget the deeds of those who are helping the Philippines.

Twitter user "Barangay Ginebra" also thanked NBA Players for their donation to the Philippines. 

Another Twitter user, Ernest Leo Hernandez, also sent his thanks to NBA and NBPA players for their help to the typhoon victims.

Typhoon Yolanda, said to be the strongest typhoon to make a landfall, hit central Philippines Friday. Some 10,000 people are feared dead, while towns and cities have been flattened by the strong winds and storm surge brought about by the typhoon.

Images and stories coming from the areas have been particularly heartbreaking. Parents grieve for missing and dead children, while many kids continue to look for their kin amid the devastation. Several pictures also showed dead parents and kids holding on to each other in what could have been an attempt to survive the onslaught of the typhoon. - with reports from the Associated Press










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