Nov 212013
The Philippines has accepted China’s offer to send its naval hospital ship to aid distressed survivors of Typhoon Yolanda that devastated many areas in the Visayas nearly two weeks ago.

“We are thankful for the offer of China to send the Peace Ark Hospital Ship to support the relief operations,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told a press briefing Thursday.

China’s Peace Ark Hospital, reports said, is already bound for the badly-hit Visayas region to provide relief assistance to the victims.

“The schedule and other details related to its deployment are now being coordinated with the concerned agencies,” Hernandez said.

China’s increased assistance came amid criticisms of its initial paltry donation of $100,000 to the Philippines, a United States ally and Beijing’s rival claimant in the South China Sea territories.

Tensions spiked anew between Manila and Beijing this year when the Philippine government sued China before an arbitral tribunal to question the legality of its massive territorial claim.

Amid mounting pressure to increase aid, China, the world’s second largest economy, pledged P73 million more.

Asked if the US would still push through with an initial plan to deploy its USNS Mercy hospital ship, Hernandez said: “There is an agreement in principle between the Philippines and the US that the USNS Mercy will be deployed at a time when it is needed most based upon the assessment of the needs of the Philippines.”

Nevertheless, he said the Philippines is “grateful” for the continued assistance provided by the US in the aftermath of the storm, which killed at least 4,000 people and affected nearly 10 million others.

The US has so far provided $47 million worth of relief aid, which comprises of non-food assistance, rice and high energy biscuits, and military or transport assets, Hernandez said.

Since Yolanda struck, the Philippines received an outpouring of support from the international community, with aid now totalling to P12.9 billion or $319.5 million.

“This demonstration of commitment by our international partners further inspires us even as we go into the tougher phase of rehabilitation and rebuilding,” Hernandez said. — KBK, GMA News

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