MANILA - President Aquino yesterday appealed to the international community to continue helping Yolanda survivors as he thanked them for the support that the country received during one of its darkest hours.
Aquino made the appeal during the presentation of credentials at Malacanãng of non-resident ambassadors, wherein he noted that Filipinos are no longer apathetic.
He said the change in the attitude of the Filipinos is one of the most valuable transformations that occurred under his term.
“In facing the many challenges that the previous year brought us, our collective capability as a nation was bolstered by the fundamental change in the attitude of our people, a change that has been taking place since 2010,” he said.
He said Filipinos have proven that they could weather all challenges and are looking forward this year not only with renewed vigor and optimism but with a strong sense of solidarity.
He said the Philippines is ready to pursue the mission that the people embarked on three and half years ago.
“The mission is to strive to put an end to the vicious cycle of corruption and negativism, and to focus our resources and efforts in creating a true regime of opportunities for the Filipino people.”
He said part of this agenda is to foster beneficial and meaningful relations with nations of goodwill.
He urged the diplomats to enhance cooperation in areas of shared interest and by deepening their engagements through more people-to-people exchanges.
“I am confident this will redound to the growth and development of all our peoples,” he said.
The eight new ambassadors were Jacob Dickie Nkate of Botswana, Dibaba Abdetta of Ethiopia, Egidijus Meilunas of Lithuania, Joaquim Alberto de Sousa Moreira de Lemos of the Portuguese Republic, Leiataua Tuitolova’a Dr. Kilifoti Eteauati of Samoa, Khalid Abdelgadir Shukri of Sudan, Amina Pardi of Suriname and Miles Kaweche Banda of Zambia.
Rice for DepEd’s feeding program
The Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) chaired by businessman Manuel Pangilinan yesterday donated 1,000 sacks of rice for the Department of Education (DepEd)’s feeding program for schoolchildren affected by Yolanda.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro signed a memorandum of agreement with PDRF officials for the provision of rice to Yolanda-affected regions.
Under the agreement, the PDRF will procure the rice from the National Food Authority.
The rice donation will benefit around 27,000 students from Regions 4B, 6, 7, and 8.
“This is very helpful as this would be one of the first few components of the school-based feeding program. In most schools, the attendance was initially at 30 percent. But by the second week, particularly with the distribution of school kits and feeding programs, the attendance rose to over 80 percent,” Luistro said.
No power yet
More than half of the total number of villages in Tacloban City remains powerless to this day, two months after Yolanda struck the country.
Data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that power supply has been restored in only 56 of 138 barangays.
The government tried but failed to restore power in all areas hit by the typhoon before Christmas last year.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla had offered to resign due to his failure to achieve the target, but President Aquino rejected his resignation.
NDRRMC said electricity has been restored in Ormoc City in Leyte, and in the towns of Anilao, Banate, Barotac Viejo and Ajuy, all in Iloilo.
The death toll from Typhoon Yolanda stood at 6,183 while 1,785 remain missing.
South Korean contingent to stay for a year
Meanwhile, South Korean soldiers sent to help rehabilitate typhoon-hit areas are ready to stay for a year, a military official said.
Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, chief of the Armed Forces Central Command, said the South Korean contingent arrived last Dec. 28 and have been operating in the northern part of Palo, Leyte.– Rhodina Villanueva, Helen Flores, Alexis Romero