Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday said the government will continue to assist the Philippines with its relief and reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, with “no limits on resources and manpower to help the country.”
Lin told a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the assistance offered to the Philippines was highly appreciated by Manila because it included much-needed relief goods and was being delivered promptly.
Two Republic of China Air Force C-130 transport planes left yesterday morning to ferry 15 tonnes of relief supplies to the Philippines and two more left in the afternoon. On Tuesday, two C-130s had delivered 15 tonnes of food, water, blankets and tents to Cebu.
The Ministry of National Defense had been considering using military vessels to transport supplies that have been donated by individuals, charities and religious organizations for post-disaster relief efforts because they total about 100 tonnes so far and the C-130s can only carry 7.5 tonnes at a time, Lin said.
In a statement issued last night, the ministry said six more planes would be sent today.
The ministry has been in close contact with “very high-ranking Philippine officials” about the list of relief supplies needed and delivery arrangements, he said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) asked Lin whether the government planned to add to its US$200,000 financial donation to the Philippines.
That was a small amount compared with the government’s donation of US$3.3 million to Japan after the 2011 earthquake, Hsu said.
Lin said the US$200,000 donation had been made before the extent of the devastation in the Philippines became clear, and the government would continue to provide Manila with assistance to meet its rehabilitation and reconstruction needs.
“We did not just donate US$200,000. Taking into account the relief goods, valued at NT$50 million, and fuel and transportation costs, the donation amounted to US$4.3 million,” Lin said.
Lin told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Ying-hsiung (楊應雄), who also expressed concern about the amount of the financial donation, that plans for more relief are being formulated.
KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-Khim (蕭美琴) both suggested that the government extend as much help as possible to the Philippines to pave the way for better bilateral relations.
Hsu said he was not happy that Taiwan had not been included in the list of 23 countries that have made offers of assistance to Manila compiled by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
However, the department did mention the help offered by Taiwan and organizations, including the UN and the EU in its announcement.
Taiwan was not on the list because the Philippines’ “one China” policy does not recognize Taiwan as a country, but the donation effort should not be politicized, Hsu said.
Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the government will continue offering relief supplies and financial aid to the Philippines in the wake of Haiyan.
“The Philippines is a neighbor of the Republic of China, and engaged in various exchanges with us. More than 60,000 Philippine workers make great contributions to our industries and families in Taiwan, and we should lend a helping hand when our friend is in need,” he said.
“The cooperation between the government and civilian groups to give supplies to survivors in the aftermath of disasters has made us a respected country, and we will continue to play the role of a humanitarian in international society,” Ma said.