Chinese hospital ship arrives in PHL to help Yolanda victims
(TACLOBAN CITY) A hospital ship from China arrived in the Philippines Sunday to render medical aid to those affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).
Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing said the hospital ship "Peace Ark" dropped anchor 10 miles from here as it is too big to be anchored at any port.
"I hope it would be a big help," Ma told reporters here, even as she said patients have to be brought to and from the vessel via ferry.
Ambassador Ma said the vessel has about 100 doctors to treat various medical conditions.
The "Peace Ark" is part of the international efforts to help the Philippines, after super typhoon Yolanda battered Visayas and Southern Luzon and left more than 5,000 dead.
"Peace Ark" has a capacity of 300 beds and a staff of 106. PND (jl)
Finance officials to address post-'Yolanda' concerns of Tacloban, traders in meet
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Finance officials are to meet this week with local traders here to address their post-typhoon "Yolanda" concerns as they try to reopen their businesses.
City administrator John Tecson Lim said Monday the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue will be represented at the meeting.
"(The traders') primary concern is security and ... soft loans and implication of the BIR," Lim said at an inter-agency meeting here.
Businesses here had started to reopen last week, after Yolanda left behind a swath of destruction.
Lim also said security options are being considered for the traders here.
He also said representatives of major malls here may arrive this week to assess when to open the supermarkets.
Citing information reaching him, he said the target is to have these supermarkets reopened by the second week of December. PND (jl)
Government asks NGO's in cash-for-work reconstruction programs to observe minimum wage
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Non-government organizations engaged in reconstruction work here after super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) were asked Monday to make sure they pay the workers the minimum wage.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman issued the reminder at an inter-agency meeting here, where she noted the minimum wage for the region is about P260 a day.
"We will encourage other NGOs providing cash-for-work to put in as near as possible," she said.
But she also asked the parties concerned to ensure safety precautions for workers, especially those in areas of the city that are still flooded.
Soliman also asked local authorities to make sure workers in the cash-for-work program will have access to medicines to prevent leptospirosis.
She pointed out leptospirosis is potentially deadly. PND (jl)
Land Transportation Office in Tacloban deploys teams vs overcharging
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) With fuel prices starting to stabilize, the Land Transportation Office is deploying teams to catch public utility vehicle drivers who jack up their fares.
An inter-agency task force addressing the problems caused by super typhoon "Yolanda" was informed of this early Monday, as the city continues to recover from Yolanda.
LTO personnel were also instructed to report to their posts for deployment to key areas in the city.
During Monday's meeting, the LTO's representative said the agency has told drivers to "go back to normal fares because gas prices are almost normal now."
The LTO will also deploy teams to check for overcharging.
Tacloban City was among the areas hit hardest by Yolanda, which left more than 5,000 dead. PND (jl)
5 injured by 'Yolanda' get treatment aboard Chinese hospital ship
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) At least five people affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) were the initial beneficiaries of medical assistance from the staff of a Chinese hospital ship that arrived in the Philippines Sunday.
The crew of China's hospital ship "Peace Ark" immediately got to work on the patients, who were brought to it via ferry.
One of the patients, Flora Anadi, 44, was operated on after she suffered a fractured knee.
Another patient, Michael Martillo, 19, was treated for appendicitis.
Martillo initially went to Metro Manila to seek treatment but could not immediately be admitted there.
On Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing had said the hospital ship is too big to be anchored at any port, so it had to be anchored 10 miles away.
Ma said the vessel has about 100 doctors to treat various medical conditions. PND (jl)
Government to work closer with international aid agencies in 'Yolanda' rehab work
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) The Philippine government is now working more closely with international agencies helping in rehabilitation work after super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she brought up the matter during a meeting with representatives of the agencies here Sunday.
According to Soliman, the meeting aimed to find which group is working where, so they will not overlap or duplicate each other's work.
"That is very important so we don't duplicate or overserve some areas and underserve others," she said.
She added the system will help them act if there are gaps for aid.
Meanwhile, city officials said 4,990 cubic meters of debris had been cleared in the last three days, bringing to 71 percent the total debris cleared so far. PND (jl)
President Aquino challenges new officers, members of the AFP to take active role in humanitarian response during calamities
President Benigno S. Aquino III challenged the new officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take a more "organized and active role" in territorial defense and humanitarian response during calamities and disasters.
In his speech during the Joint Graduation of the Major Services Pre-Entry Officer Courses held at the AFP Theater, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Monday, the Chief Executive reminded the AFP officers and personnel of their role in non-military activities such as providing disaster relief, constructing civilian housing, among others.
The AFP is composed of the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
"Bilang Commander-in-Chief, alam ko ang bigat at lawak ng tungkuling nakaatang sa propesyong inyong pinasukan. Bilang mga kawal ng bayan, hindi kayo puwedeng mawala sa eksena sa panahon ng pangangailangan at mga di-inaasahang pangyayari," President Aquino said.
"Kapag may bakbakan, nariyan kayo’t handang sumalag ng bala, mailayo lang sa peligro ang kapwa Pilipino. Sa panahon ng sakuna, kayo rin ang inaasahang pumronta. Sa kasagsagan man ng lindol o sa gitna ng humahagupit na bagyo, agad rumeresponde ang mga kawal ng bayan: hindi nagpapatinag, at taas-noong tumutugon sa tawag ng tungkulin," he said.
The AFP officers and personnel play an active role as among the first responders in the event of calamities and natural disasters, the Chief Executive said.
The President said super typhoon "Yolanda" (internationally known as Haiyan ) caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines early this month. Yolanda was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the country.
"Kamakailan nga lang po ay humagupit si Yolanda: ang pinakamalakas na bagyong naitala sa ating kasaysayan. Sa ganitong mga panahon ng trahedya, mahalagang kayong mga kawal ang magsilbing haligi ng katatagan at sandigan ng ating mga kababayan," President Aquino said.
"Hindi kayo maaaring magpadaig sa anumang kalungkutan; hindi kayo maaaring magpakita ng anumang anyo ng kahinaan. Alam nating hindi ito madali, subalit sa mukha ng trahedya, nariyan kayo’t rumesponde upang kumalinga, at paghugutan ng lakas at pag-asa ng mga biktima," he said.
"Kasama ang mga pulis, bumbero, gayundin ang mga volunteers, kayo ang humukay sa putikan upang mabigyan ng mas marangal na pagkakahimlay ang mga nasawi. Kayo ang kumalinga sa mga biktimang kailangang lapatan ng pangunang lunas," he said.
President Aquino called on the new members of the AFP to fulfill their mandate of upholding the sovereignty, defending the territorial integrity of the country and protecting the Filipino people.
"Sa pagpasok po ng 140 nating graduates sa serbisyo sa araw na ito, siguradong lalakas pa ang puwersa ng ating mga kawal na handang humarap sa anumang banta o hamon," the President said.
"Sa bawat pagkakataon, patunayan ninyong karapat-dapat kayong maging bahagi ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas; buong tapang na humaharap sa anumang pagsubok," he stressed.
During the ceremonies, the President, who was assisted by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, led the distribution of diplomas and the awarding of the Presidential Saber to graduates.
2nd Lieutenant Mary Jean B. Cabillete, PA; 2nd Lt. Kristyl May A. Beatingo, PAF; and Ensign Vanessa Katrina J. Tulang, PN received the Presidential Saber Award.
The awardees of the Secretary of National Defense Saber were Lt. Shiela Mae T. Enderez, PA; 2nd Lt. John Red A. Honrales, PAF; and Ensign Tiffany Ann P. Palmares, PN.
Meanwhile, the awardees of the Chief of Staff Saber were 2nd Lt Mike Vergel L. Conception, PA; 2nd Lt. Janna B. Ontong, PAF; and Ensign Eunice Fe. Sabado. PN. PND (js)
Aquino administration mourns death of veteran broadcaster June Keithley
The Aquino administration mourns the death of veteran broadcaster and 1986 Edsa People Revolution figure June Keithley-Castro who died on Sunday, a Palace official said.
"June Keithley-Castro’s battle with cancer–which she had waged since 2009–is at an end. To her last breath she exemplified courage and faith," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.
Castro, the wife of the late veteran news anchor Angelo Castro Jr., was the host of Radyo Bandido at the height of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
"Her courage enabled her to confront her illness, but also that of her husband, Angelo Castro Jr., whose death we all mourned in 2012, with dignity and the kind of serenity that can only come from an uncompromising faith in the goodness of God and trust in His plan for all things," Lacierda said.
The government also expressed its sympathy and condolences with the family of Castro.
"As we pause to pay her tribute, we believe we speak for the nation in extending our deepest sympathy to her children.
As she herself recounted, June Keithley rediscovered her faith in 1985, when her son asked her to accompany him to the Quirino Grandstand for the consecration of the nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary," Lacierda said.
As host of Radyo Bandido, she called on Filipinos to join the first People Power revolt at EDSA that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos.
"From there, her reawakening to her faith accompanied the period of national redemption and liberation that brought forth the Miracle of EDSA: that peaceful revolution which was marked by her voice on Radyo Bandido.
There, in the isolation of a radio studio, together with two brave children, she spoke truth to power for 14 hours, heedless of the danger of contesting the media apparatus of the dictatorship," the Palace spokesperson said. PND (js)
Massive relief efforts underway in 'Yolanda'-hit areas; over 1 million food packs distributed
Massive relief efforts are underway in the areas devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda," distributing a total of 1,402,820 food packs to typhoon survivors, a Palace officials said.
“Relief continues to reach Yolanda-affected areas in Central Visayas. Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas reports that, since relief operations started on November 9 and until November 23, a total of 1,402,820 food packs have been distributed," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.
Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon to hit this year, caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines early this month.
"According to Secretary Roxas, given the amount of relief distributed, most municipalities have been provided with 3 to 4 rounds of relief. On November 23, the Secretary reports that 112,071 food packs were distributed to Leyte, with Tacloban City receiving 20,382. For Eastern Samar, 33,460 food packs were distributed," Lacierda stressed.
The government is working hard to immediately restore normalcy in areas devastated by super typhoon, Lacierda said.
"Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who was tasked by the President to be the overall coordinator for the preparation of relief items, says that, in order to prepare 150,000 family packs per day, the government must purchase 1.2 million pesos worth of canned goods, 1.2 million pesos worth of noodles, 1.2 million pesos worth of instant coffee, and 18,000 sacks of rice," Lacierda said.
"Each family pack contains 6 kilos of rice, 8 canned goods, 8 packets of noodles, and 8 sachets of instant coffee. The Secretary reports that 2 million family packs were prepared for shipping and distribution on November 24," he said.
In response to the directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III to restore normalcy to affected communities, concerned government agencies are speeding up the transition of relief efforts into the full-scale rehabilitation and rebuilding of the areas damaged by the super typhoon
"Sec. Purisima notes that relief preparations undertaken by the government are unprecedented in the country’s history. With massive relief efforts underway, the use of military trucks and ships are spread across the affected areas. Government units are also making sure that all relief items are accounted for and equally distributed," Lacierda said.
"Sec. Purisima also clarifies that for international aid, foreign donors course these through their respective organizations, which have their own distribution facilities. To date, foreign financial aid pledged totals more than 343 million US dollars or over 14.9 billion pesos. This is in addition to the pledges of the World Bank and the ADB to provide the country concessional loans," he said. PND (js)
Christmas tree brings cheer to city hall employees in Yolanda-hit Tacloban
(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) It may not be as fancy as those found in malls and hotels in Metro Manila, but it is bringing cheer and hope to a city that needs both badly.
Visitors to City Hall here were attracted Monday to a Christmas tree and small Christmas lights near the City Assessors' Office.
The tree, less than three feet tall, was placed atop a small table, and decorated with poinsettias and Christmas lights - weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Yolanda) devastated this city.
"Ngayong umaga lang iyan nilagay (It was put there just this morning)," said City Assessors' Office OIC Danilo Demillo.
He said the Christmas decoration came a bit earlier compared to past years, when City Hall would not start decorating until the first week of December.
But he said it was still welcome as it cheered up the employees, who he said still hope to get a yearend bonus despite the destruction brought by Yolanda.
When asked if the Christmas tree and decor helped boost the employees' morale, he said it did.
"Parang ... Kasi Christmas, maligaya siguro (In a way it lifted our spirits because Christmas is associated with joy)," he said.
Tacloban is one of the areas hardest hit by Yolanda when it devastated Visayas and Southern Luzon last Nov. 8. Yolanda left more than 5,000 dead. PND (jl)