Philippines to host ARF-VDR on disaster relief
Quezon City (27 February) -- The Philippines will host the Voluntary Demonstration of Response (VDR) on Disaster Relief on 4-8 May 2009 following the agreement reached during the Ministers Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2008 in Singapore. The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the US government will co-sponsor the conduct of this exercise in Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
This civilian-led and military supported exercise is a robust attempt to demonstrate ARF nation capabilities in response to an affected nation's request for assistance following a major disaster such as Typhoon Frank in the Philippines or the Sichuan Earthquake in China. The VDR builds the regional assistance capacity for multinational relief operations as requested by governments in times of crises.
Using an exercise scenario where Metro Manila and Central Luzon are devastated by a super-typhoon, ARF participating countries will offer assistance to the Philippines in response to her request for international humanitarian relief. Areas of demonstration include land, air and maritime search and rescue, medical assistance/evacuation and engineering reconstruction. This first-ever VDR will also test the NDCC - United Nations Clusters Coordination mechanism in humanitarian assistance through a tabletop exercise.
Fifteen (15) ARF nations participated during the initial planning conference held recently in Makati City. These nations committed to participate by sending small size civil-military units and observers. After the planning conference, site surveys were conducted in the different locations at Clark Field, Olongapo City, Manila Bay, Zambales and Pampanga. Coordinating conferences were also held with local government officials and with the members of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council in Region 3.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the executive arm of the NDCC is the lead agency in the planning and execution of the VDR. The VDR Working Group composed of senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other NDCC members are putting into motion the necessary arrangements for the conduct of this exercise. A final planning conference will be held on 9-14 March 2009 to complete details of the participation of ARF countries. After which, there will be a press briefing with the media on all aspects of the exercise.
Administrator Glenn J. Rabonza of the OCD, in his report to Defense Secretary and Chairman, NDCC Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr stated that the planning for the VDR is progressing well. He further reported that the ARF members have responded enthusiastically to the conduct of the VDR. The Philippines will surely benefit not only from the lessons learned from the inter-operability exercises in disaster relief but also from the various civil-military projects. These include reconstruction of a school building, construction of a bridge, and installation of water system, among others.
The following countries have committed to participate in the ARF-VDR: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and the U.S.A. The European Union, on the other hand will send a technical support team and observers. Sri Lanka will send disaster relief planning personnel while the others from the 27 ARF countries will be sending observers. (OCD/PIA) [top]