Nov 212013


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Since foreign aid had been pouring in after the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday has decided to institutionalize the military assistance given by 16 countries, particularly the United States, to the Philippines in the form of the Multinational Coordinating Center (MNCC).

AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Emmanuel Bautista, in a press briefing at the Office of Civil Defense headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, officially announced the creation of the MNCC “to coordinate and synchronize military to military operations and facilitate the cooperation between the AFP and the US Joint Task Force in support of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).”

As foreign contingents of 61 air assets, 14 naval vessels and seven C-130s fly and dock to the country for relief missions, Bautista said the newly-established council was tasked to ensure that the movements of foreign aid were monitored “perfectly to the general situation of the disaster relief efforts of the national government.”

Representing the members of US Marine Corps, Lieutenant General John Wissler said the American forces will continue to provide their relief efforts and augmentation forces for as long as these are needed, noting that the US forces are “simply here to support.”

“This tragedy would have brought every nation to its knees but one thing that comes to me is the resilience of the people of the Philippines. From the government to the AFP to the private sector to the people who have been affected, your coming together has made this partnership (Philippines-US) easy,” he said.

Wissler, contrary to his fellow American and CNN reporter Anderson Cooper, lauded the “hardwork” of the government and the AFP for their “very rapid response.”

He said the AFP-led coordination center has been “central” to the effective application of all the resources that different nations have contributed.

But when asked if USAID dart leader Al Dwyer has a comment on Cooper’s report, he told the media he cannot comment on the broadcast journalist’s report since he was not able to see it.

Dwyer pointed that the criticisms against the government’s response may have been caused by its non-simultaneous efforts.

“In the early days (of the aftermath), the focus was to get as many people as many as possible. The perception of lack of organization was not building the infrastructure first and then responding (to the survivors’ needs) rather than responding simultaneously,” the USAID official said.


More foreign aid pour in for ‘Yolanda’ victims

Filipino-Americans gather resources to aid ‘Yolanda’ victims

Gov’t launches transparency website for foreign aid to Yolanda survivors

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Tags: Armed Forces of the Philippines , disaster response , Foreign aid , Haiyan , Multinational Coordinating Center , National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council , NDRRMC , Supertyphoon , US Agency for International Development , US Marines , Usaid , Yolanda , Yolanda Aid , Yolanda Survivors , Yolanda victims

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Nov 212013
Interpol forensic experts scheduled to fly to Tacloban

By Tetch Torres-TupasINQUIRER.net 6:47 pm | Thursday, November 21st, 2013 AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines—Forensic experts from the International Police (Interpol) are scheduled to fly to Tacloban City to help in identifying the victims of monster typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan). Justice Secretary Leila De Lima told reporters that she has already met with the Interpol’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team which will assist the NBI in the huge task of identifying thousands of cadavers. “This weekend, they will go to Tacloban to make an initial assessment to be able to make a proposal on how to go about the DVI given the magnitude of the casualties,” De Lima said. “Of course, Interpol has a lot of experience already not only competence, not only expertise in that area but experience in dealing with this situation on all types of disasters,” she added. The Interpol team is composed of experts from Canada, United Kingdom, Cameron, Jordan, Bosnia and South Africa. “That’s the initial team and depending on the exact process, I think more experts from the Interpol will fly to the country,” she said. De Lima believed that Interpol’s assistance in the DVI operations would be very helpful, citing the same help extended by the international body during the “Princess of the Star” tragedy off Romblon in June 2008. She also said that the integrity of the whole process of identifying the casualties will be ensured with the help of the foreign forensics experts. The first batch of NBI experts flew Read More …

Nov 212013
PH wins seat in World Heritage Committee

By Matikas SantosINQUIRER.net 3:22 pm | Thursday, November 21st, 2013 A passenger jeepney passing by the old Aduana (customs) building in Intramuros, Manila. AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – Getting the second highest number of votes, the Philippines won one of 12 seats in the prestigious World Heritage Committee that decides what locations and properties are included in the World Heritage List. Receiving 116 from the total 173 votes, the Philippines will serve a four-year term. The rest of the elected countries – Croatia, Finland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and Viet Nam – will join the nine incumbent members of the committee. “This was a clear indication of States Parties’ support for and belief in the country’s capabilities to perform the important mission of the Committee,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement Thursday. The elections, held during the 19th Session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, have been described by Ambassador Cristina Ortega as “happy news for my country.” The World Heritage Committee’s primary task is to identify places anywhere in the world that have important cultural or historical value. More than 900 World Heritage Sites have so far been listed including the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Taj Mahal in India. The Committee is also the one that allocates funds from the World Heritage Fund, sourced from all member states through contributions, to countries that requests for financial Read More …

Nov 142013
Pentagon names special report ‘Operation Damayan’ on its website

By Julliane Love de JesusINQUIRER.net 9:51 pm | Thursday, November 14th, 2013 MANILA, Philippines—Naming its humanitarian assistance to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines using Filipino words, the Pentagon, or the United States Department of Defense, has dedicated a special report in its official website on “Operation Damayan.” “Damayan” is loosely translated “helping each other.” After Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) barrelled the entire coastal communities in Central Visayas leaving thousands dead, foreign aid poured in the affected areas as global concern for the Philippines grew. In the case of Pentagon, concern and relief efforts for its partner country manifested even in the cyberspace.   With a customized header for “Operation Damayan,” the US Department of Defense featured news articles, videos and photo essays of American troops who came to the Philippines’ rescue. From their preparation in Japan for relief operations, the visuals documented the US soldiers giving aid to the survivors of “Yolanda” in the worst hit Tacloban City in Leyte province, where more than 2,000 have been recorded dead. It also collated statements from US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel alongside the Central Intelligence Agency’s website providing information on the Philippines. A day after Yolanda battered the country, Obama sent his sympathies to the Philippines in a public statement saying: “Michelle (Obama) and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’. But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippine people, and I am confident that the spirit Read More …

Nov 142013
US sends ‘Mercy’ to Yolanda victims

By Julliane Love de JesusINQUIRER.net 8:09 pm | Thursday, November 14th, 2013 USNS MERCYphoto from http://www.med.navy.mil MANILA, Philippines – A US Navy hospital ship will come to the Philippines to support disaster relief efforts in areas ravaged by the supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan). Expected to dock in the Philippines this December, naval ship “Mercy” was activated by US Pacific Fleet on Wednesday for immediate deployment, commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris Jr. said in an official statement. “If ordered to deploy, Mercy would get underway in the next several days and could arrive in the Philippines sometime in December, joining other US Pacific Fleet units already supporting Operation Damayan,” the Pentagon’s humanitarian assistance program for “Yolanda” victims launched in cooperation with the US Agency for International Development. Damayan in Filipino means “help in time of need”. As of posting time, the US has transported more than 107,000 pounds of relief supplies. In the official website of USNS Mercy has three to four operating rooms, one emergency room, four Intensive Care Unit beds and isolation ward, 62 ward beds and 22 hotel beds. The US Navy will also send amphibious ships USS Ashland (LSD 48), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), which were expected to arrive in the country starting Thursday. “This collection of ships and their complement of aircraft, to include much-needed helicopters, will provide food and water, the capability to move relief supplies to isolated areas, and Read More …

Nov 142013
China’s paltry Philippines aid hurting reputation

A man looks over near the front page of a Chinese newspaper showing a photo of the typhoon damage in the Philippines and the white characters on blue which reads “U.S. and Europe hype up Chinese aid to Philippines as ‘Not Generous’ “, at a newsstand in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. The outpouring of international aid to the Philippines makes China’s contribution for typhoon relief look like a trickle – and that won’t help Beijing’s campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power. AP BEIJING — The outpouring of international aid to the Philippines makes China’s contribution for typhoon relief look like a trickle — and that won’t help Beijing’s campaign to win over neighbors with its soft power. The world’s second-largest economy has pledged less than $2 million in cash and materials, compared to $20 million provided by the United States, which also launched a massive military-driven rescue operation that includes an aircraft carrier. Another Chinese rival, Japan, has pledged $10 million and offered to send troops, ships and planes. Australia is giving $28 million, and even Swedish furniture chain Ikea’s offer of $2.7 million through its charitable foundation beats China’s. China’s reluctance to give more — driven by a bitter feud with Manila over overlapping claims in the South China Sea — dents its global image at a time when it is vying with Washington for regional influence. “China has missed an excellent opportunity to show itself as a responsible power and to generate goodwill,” Read More …

Nov 082013
Body of doc killed in Beijing car crash arrives

By Maricar CincoInquirer Southern Luzon 5:43 am | Saturday, November 9th, 2013 DEATH IN THE FAMILY The Bunyis of Imus, Cavite—Mikaella (left), Dr. Rizalina Bunyi, Dr. Nelson Bunyi, Francisca Ysabel and Jose Lorenzo PHOTO REPRODUCTION BY RAFFY LERMA SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines—The remains of Rizalina Camia-Bunyi, the doctor killed in the Oct. 28 car crash described by Chinese authorities as a “terrorist attack,” were finally flown back to her family in Imus City in Cavite on Friday. The body, placed in a “beautifully made” wooden casket arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 10 a.m., according to Bunyi’s father, Rodrigo Camia. Despite threats from Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name “Haiyan”), Camia said the flight did not encounter any delay. Rizalina, a 55-year-old obstetrician, was with her husband Nelson, a pediatrician, and two daughters in Beijing when a car plowed into a crowd as they were near the Tiananmen Square. Nelson sustained a fracture while daughters Francisca Ysabel, 23, and Mikaella, 21, suffered less serious injuries. The Bunyis returned to the Philippines on Nov. 2. Two days later, Nelson and Mikaella had undergone an operation, which turned out fine, according to Camia. Interviewed by phone, Camia, 84, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government and the Philippine Embassy in China for looking after the family after the attack. He said Nelson and the daughters stayed in a nice hotel in China and were provided security escorts, until their return to the Philippines. “My only regret is losing my daughter too soon, Read More …

Nov 072013
DFA suspends passport service in several areas due to ‘Yolanda’

By Kristine Angeli SabilloINQUIRER.net 5:05 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013 INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday announced the suspension of services, including the releasing of passports, in seven regional consular offices from November 8 to 9 due to expected bad weather. “The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advises the public that due to super typhoon Yolanda, consular services at DFA Regional Consular Offices (RCOs) in Tacloban, Legazpi, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Lipa, and Lucena will be temporarily suspended on November 8-9 (Friday and Saturday),” DFA said in a statement. Normal operations will resume on November 11 (Monday). The affected RCOs may be contacted through the following numbers: Tacloban – (053) 321-8233 Legazpi – (052) 480-3000 Cebu – (032) 520-5898 Bacolod – (034) 441-2675 Iloilo – (033) 337-8017 Lipa – (043) 722-0578 Lucena – (042) 710-4526 The DFA main office may be reached at (02) 536-0000, passportconcerns@dfa.gov.ph and ppt_do@yahoo.com. Follow Us Recent Stories: Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines. Tags: DFA , Foreign affairs , Passport Service , Supertyphoon Yolanda , weather Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer’s Reader’s Advocate. Or write The Readers’ Advocate: c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Read More …

Nov 072013
South African slapped with drug raps over cocaine haul at NAIA

By Jerry E. EsplanadaPhilippine Daily Inquirer 2:56 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013 Customs chief Ruffy Biazon.  RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs filed drug smuggling charges before the Department of Justice against a South African national who was caught carrying 8.5 kilos of cocaine by alert BOC personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) two weeks ago. Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said they have filed criminal charges against suspected drug mule Debbie Reyneke, citing the Department of Finance-attached agency’s intensified campaign against the use of the country’s ports of entry in the illegal drug trade. “This should send a strong warning to international drug syndicates that the Philippines is not a place for illegal and hazardous drugs,” he said, stressing the BOC would not allow any foreign drug ring make the country one of their markets. In a statement, the former Muntinlupa City legislator also said the BOC would “prosecute and seek for the maximum penalties allowed by law to all those caught attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country, if only to spare the lives of many young Filipinos.” “Reyneke’s arrest on October 23 upon her arrival from Dubai on board an Emirates flight was the result of the bureau’s enhanced intelligence network,” said Biazon. He disclosed that “Customs officials at the NAIA were already alerted of her arrival and the possibility of having illegal drugs in her luggage. When her bag was inspected, it yielded food packs containing a substance that tested Read More …

Nov 042013
PH verifying report US used Manila as spy hub

By Frances MangosingINQUIRER.net 3:42 pm | Monday, November 4th, 2013 Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The government is verifying among its intelligence communities a report from Australian media that the country has been used as a key “listening post” by the United States’ National Security Agency. “We are checking with our intelligence community. We are discussing if anything’s happening. So far there are no signs,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday. The foreign media report said that Australia is sharing information with NSA, an agency involved with whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks. “A secret map released by Snowden revealed the US had also set up surveillance facilities in embassies and consulates, including in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Yangon, Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai and Beijing,” the ABC News said. The ABC News also said that it was the same map that Snowden released to Der Spiegel, a German news magazine. It showed listening posts around the world including Manila. Renato Reyes, Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said the use of Philippines as a listening post with or without the knowledge of the government, is “a violation of our sovereignty as a nation.” “It opens us to violations of our right to privacy. Even Malacañang could be subject to surveillance. All the affairs of government could be monitored by a foreign entity,” he also said. Reyes also said the new US ambassador should explain to the public the real Read More …