Philippine envoy expresses gratitude over relief efforts

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Nov 30, 2013 - Page 4

Manila Economic and Cultural Office Director Antonio Basilio expressed his gratitude to Taiwan on Thursday for its swift relief efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which ripped through his country on Nov. 8, leaving a trail of death and destruction.

“We have also seen the generosity and kindness of the international community,” Basilio said. “The people of Taiwan were among the first to respond to relieve the suffering of the victims of the typhoon.”

Speaking at a press conference in Hualien, he also thanked the local government in the eastern county for its assistance. He further expressed appreciation to the county government for its efforts to maintain its aid to the Philippines over the long term.

“We welcome the Hualien County Government’s pledge of support to the relief efforts with their donation of what would be the equivalent of one day’s salary of the Hualien County Government employees and also the long term plan of providing financial assistance to 100 orphaned children in the typhoon-affected areas,” Basilio said.

He also paid tribute to donors at all levels who have been assisting his country.

“It is said that compassion and goodwill transcend politics and religion, and we wish to take this opportunity to thank the many individuals, private and government agencies,” Basilio added.

As of Wednesday, the death toll in the Philippines from Haiyan had risen to nearly 5,500, with 1,757 missing, and damage to infrastructure and agriculture was estimated at NT$16.35 billion (US$551 million), Basilio said.

The government initially donated US$200,000 in cash and sent 150 tonnes of relief supplies to the affected areas in the Philippines via military cargo planes. Shortly after, Taiwan sent a naval vessel loaded with 530 tonnes of relief supplies.

So far, the government and charity organizations have contributed more than NT$210 million in funds and supplies to help typhoon-battered regions of the Philippines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.