Outpouring of support for ‘Yolanda’ survivors
The groups that banded together to help parched Mindanao in 1998 at the height of the El Niño weather phenomenon have come together once again to help central Philippines, which was devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last week.
The core groups that formed Tabang Mindanao (Help Mindanao), which include the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ayala Foundation, Assisi Development Foundation Inc. and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (CBCP-Nassa), met at the Inquirer head office in Makati City on Friday to set up Tabang Visayas (Help Visayas) Task Force.
Also on hand were representatives from Peace and Equity Foundation, Metrobank Foundation, Unilab Foundation, Zuellig Foundation and the International Organization for Migration.
Tabang Mindanao Task Force head ambassador Howard Dee and Inquirer president Sandy Prieto-Romualdez headed the meeting to discuss what the group, which was proven to be an effective conduit of funds for Mindanao, could do for the Visayas.
“We have heard all the stories and I thought that this is the time that Tabang and all its partners can be tapped again as it was a great success. We also need multisectoral partners and this [partnership] is something that we can do for Yolanda [victims] as well,” Romualdez said.
After the briefing given by Samar Rep. Mel Senen S. Sarmiento, who was tapped by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to help in the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation work, Kaya Natin! Rep. Marisa Lerias and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines executive director Sonia Lorenzo, it became apparent that intervention should go beyond the emergency response, or the provision of food, water and shelter.
And one of the likely steps was for the group to concentrate the bulk of the funds to be raised on the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the homes and businesses destroyed by Yolanda (international name: “Haiyan”).
More funds needed
Speaking at the meeting, Sarmiento stressed that more funds would be required in the rebuilding phase, considering that Tacloban City, the center of trade, commerce and education in Eastern Visayas, was heavily damaged.
To help guide the efforts of the private sector and to ensure the most efficient use of every peso that will go through the group, Sarmiento said the Department of the Interior and Local Government would release a list of towns and cities affected by Yolanda, classified into those that were severely affected and thus could remain in the emergency response phase and those that could already go into the rebuilding process.
It was estimated that as much as $12 billion would be needed for the devastated towns and cities to get back on their feet, of which 80 percent would go to the rehabilitation phase, including the construction of homes, schools and buildings.
CBCP-Nassa chair Broderick Pabillo stressed that the funds should not be concentrated in Eastern Visayas, but should also go to other affected areas not getting as much attention as Tacloban City in Leyte province, such as Bantayan Island in Cebu province and Coron town in Palawan province.
Pabillo said the private sector should not forget Bohol, which is still recovering from the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Central Visayas on Oct. 15.
“Let us continue this kind of cooperation. Maybe this is happening to us to make us more holy and be there more for each other as a people,” Pabillo said.
Survivors of the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga province have also come together to help the people of the Visayas who helped them in their time of greatest need.
“The desire [of the people of Pampanga] to help is spurred by our own Pinatubo experience,” Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said after the launch of “Pampanga for Visayas/Palawan” in San Fernando City on Saturday.
The movement is a multisectoral partnership to aid the Visayas and Palawan. It encourages Catholics to donate cash and goods, with all the 94 parishes of the Archdiocese of San Fernando as drop-off points.
Holy Rosary Parish in Angeles City has raised P1 million so far.
Metrobank Group, Toyota Motor Philippines and Toyota Financial Services Philippines have joined the relief and rehabilitation efforts, contributing P50 million to help families who suffered from the wrath of Yolanda.
Through Metrobank Foundation Inc. and GT-Metro Foundation Inc. (the Ty family foundation), an initial P25 million has been allotted for relief operations targeting calamity-stricken provinces of Leyte, Iloilo, Capiz, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Aklan, Antique and Palawan.
Part of the money will be coursed through different sociocivic and news organizations spearheading relief drives.
Half a million pesos was given to the Philippine Daily Inquirer to support the paper’s relief drive, and was turned over by Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña to Inquirer president Romualdez and assistant vice president for corporate affairs Connie Kalagayan.
The other P25 million will go to the reconstruction and rebuilding of churches, schools, and other structures.
“We are saddened by the extent of destruction in the lives and properties among our fellow Filipinos in the Visayas, including the province of Palawan, brought about by this recent calamity,” said Metrobank Group chair George S.K. Ty.
“To help mitigate their sufferings, we have mobilized the resources of the Metrobank Group. We hope that other corporations will also do their share as a show of solidarity to the victims,” Ty said.
Manila Doctors Hospital, the healthcare affiliate of Metrobank Group, is arranging medical missions to hardest-hit areas in the Visayas.
Global Business Power
Earlier, Global Business Power Corp., the Metrobank Group’s power unit, opened its multipurpose hall in Iloilo to serve as temporary shelter for around 300 people.
Global Business has also sent relief supplies to Cebu and Mindoro.
Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) has donated P100 million for the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation efforts.
“Our hearts and prayers go to those affected,” PMFTC president Paul Riley said.
“Our first priority is to provide immediate assistance to our colleagues and their families in the disaster-stricken areas, but our commitment does not end there,” Riley aid.
“As the country works to rebuild over the next several years, we will work with our partners on the ground to provide resources to restore the communities and homes destroyed by the typhoon,” he said.
Manila relief center
To help in the response to Yolanda, the Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (MNHPI), operator of the Manila North Harbor, has opened a staging area from which 3,000 to 6,000 tons of relief supplies can be sent to the typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas.
“The North Harbor warehouses will now act as the central receiving area for relief goods coming from all over Manila,” MNHPI chair Michael Romero announced at a gathering at North Port Passenger Terminal in Tondo, Manila, on Saturday.
“MNHPI, for its part, is waiving port charges. This will solve a lot of the logistical problems in bringing food and goods to the devastated areas,” Romero said. With reports from Maricar B. Brizuela in Manila, and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.