A highly efficient disaster relief operation Taiwan carried out recently in typhoon-affected areas of the Philippines has highlighted Taiwan as an international disaster relief service provider and could help improve relations between the two countries, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday.
Taiwanese were among the first to respond to the suffering in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which ripped through the Philippines on Nov. 8, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands displaced, Lin said.
The Taiwan government initially donated US$200,000 in cash on the third day after the typhoon struck and then sent large amounts of relief supplies to the affected areas via military cargo planes and a navy vessel.
The supplies came from donation drives organized by private charity groups. After confirming the scale of the devastation from the typhoon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense sent 18 sorties of military cargo planes with supplies raised by local civic groups to the Philippines in the five days after the disaster, Lin said, adding that on Nov. 25, a Taiwanese navy vessel carried another 530 tonnes of supplies to Cebu.
According to the statistics, the Taiwanese government and civic groups have offered more than NT$300 million (US$10.13 million) worth of goods and assistance to the typhoon-struck Philippines.
Lin said that Philippine media outlets and the country’s representative office in Taiwan have expressed their gratitude to Taiwan for its swift relief efforts in the wake of the typhoon.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has privately thanked Taiwan for its assistance with post-disaster relief efforts.
“Aquino has praised Taiwan as a friend in need,” Lin said, quoting a Philippine official on Nov. 20.
Relations between Taiwan and the Philippines hit an all-time low following the May 9 shooting of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine Coast Guard personnel in overlapping waters of the South China Sea.
Lin said the recent disaster relief Taiwan offered to the Philippines will be helpful for the positive development of relations between the two countries.