UN cites gov't for quick, effective response
Manila (8 October) -- The Philippine Government was lauded by the United Nations (UN) for putting a quick and effective rescue and relief operation in place for those affected by Typhoon Ondoy.
In her speech during the Manila Flash Appeal launch at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on Oct. 7, Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, UN Resident Representative, noted that "the sense of national unity, from the highest levels of government to village communities, has been inspirational.
Anne Veneman, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), echoed Dr. Badcock’s observation. She said the response of the government was commendable, considering the fact that it had to reach so many people in widely separated areas all at the same time.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), thanked the UN and acknowledged the assistance it had extended to the Philippines at a time when the capabilities of the country was strained to the limits.
The Flash Appeal was formally launched in Geneva the day before. Its purpose is to generate $74 million worth of assistance, in cash and in kind, from the international community to address the immediate needs of approximately one million people who suffered the most.
Dr. Badcock noted that "extensive search and rescue operations were launched immediately, involving the Armed Forces of the Philippines, [other] representatives of the government, the Red Cross, Filipino non-government organizations (NGOs), and local volunteers.
"Humanitarian assistance was also quick to arrive, from government departments and agencies, NGOs and private individuals," she added. "All this has been underpinned with a remarkable sense of volunteerism and solidarity."
"Yet despite the determination of the people of the Philippines to help themselves, the unanticipated scale of the floods understandably overwhelmed local capabilities," she also said.
Thus, she explained, the urgent call for assistance was issued, but not after the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team had made a rapid assessment of the flooding wrought by the typhoon in Metro Manila on Sept. 26.
According to Dr. Badcock, the UN has been consulting and working closely with the NDCC and other agencies of the government.
"We are mindful of the fact that the speed at which this initial Flash Appeal was finalized means that we do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the needs in all areas due in part to the inaccessibility of some of the worst-affected areas," Dr. Badcock went on. "The appeal will thus be revised in the coming weeks to ensure that projects and our overall strategy are in line with the latest data."
Also on hand to field questions from the media were Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
The launch was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, agencies of government, and socio-civic organizations, among others. (PIA-MMIO) [top]