Foreign aid pours in for disaster victims
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday urged the public to help victims of tropical storm Sendong as their way of celebrating Christmas.
Aquino, in his Christmas message, said people should make disaster victims feel that they are not alone in their time of need.
The President said this is his only Christmas wish.
"Kamakailan lamang, sinalanta ng Bagyong Sendong ang malaking bahagi ng Visayas at Mindanao. Sa halip na magdiwang sa harap ng saganang Noche Buena, daan-daang pamilya ang nagsisiksikan pa rin sa mga evacuation center at idaraos ang pasko na kipkip ang madilim na ala-ala ng trahedya," he said.
"Ang batayan ng ating kaligtasan ay hindi maidadaan sa kariwasaan o sa dami ng iyong ari-arian-- naka-angkla ito sa pag-aalay ng sakripisyo at bukas-palad na pakikipagkapwa-tao," he said. "Taos-puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa sambayanang Pilipino--sa inyong kumpiyansa at tiwala sa pagsusumikap nating mahandugan ng mas matiwasay na pamumuhay ang ating mga kababayan."
"Ipadama natin sa kanilang hindi sila nag-iisa; tanglawan natin sila ng malasakit at pagmamahal, iparamdam nating kabilang sila sa mas malaking pamilya. Ang tanging hiling ko po sa bawat isa sa inyo: huwag tayong mag-atubiling magbahagi ng ating mga biyaya, huwag tayong magdalawang-isip na maghandog ng mabuting gawa," Aquino added.
"Lagi po sana nating alalahanin na ang Pasko ay para sa lahat ng tao at marami pa rin sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi ganap ang sayang nararamdaman sa panahong ito," he said.
The President also urged disaster victims to be resilient and not lose hope.
"Tandaan po natin na tulad ng bituwin sa Betlehem, kapiling natin ang liwanag ng kabutihan na kailanman ay hindi magmamaliw. Patuloy sana natin itong kapitan at ituring na gabay sa pagbagtas sa matuwid at maliwanag na daan," Aquino said.
South Korea, Denmark aid
Meantime, overseas humanitarian aid is pouring in for victims of Sendong in the southern Philippines.
South Korea is giving $610,000 worth of aid relief to victims.
A total of $500,000 is being given by the South Korean government, while Korean companies Samsung Electronics Philippines Corporation ($50,000) and Hanjin Heavy Industry Corporation-Philippines ($20,000) and Korea Electric Power Company Philippines ($10,000) have also made pledges.
The Join Together Society (JTS) Korea, a non-government relief organization, also pledged $30,000 worth of assistance.
South Korea President Lee Myung-bak has sent a letter to President Aquino and victims of Tropical Storm Sendong.
In a letter sent to President Aquino, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak relayed his condolences to the bereaved families and victims of Sendong.
President Lee expressed his sincere hope that the Filipino people will overcome difficulties brought by the calamity.
Denmark is also contributing to the relief campaign for Sendong victims by donating DKK 300,000 (around P2.3 million) for immediate humanitarian response in disaster-hit areas.
Denmark aims to help an initial 1,500 families in the urban areas of Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City where food, water, sanitation materials, mattresses and blankets will be distributed to the victims.
It is cooperating with a local non-government organization, the Citizen's Disaster Response Center (CDRC), in the relief program.
Other countries such as the United States have made similar aid pledges.
Tropical storm Sendong has killed at least 1,080 people and left 1,079 other missing, according to latest figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
It has also displaced tens of thousands of people, who are now staying in temporary shelters.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said an appeal for humanitarian assistance for the victims of Sendong was launched Thursday.
The appeal was made by United Nations agencies, international organizations and development partners, and the Philippine government.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has requested Philippine embassies and consulates around the world to inform their host governments of the flash appeal, which seeks to address the needs of 471,000 persons in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City affected by Sendong for the next three months.
The appeal seeks to raise around $28.5 million in aid.
The amount is based upon a rapid-needs assessment conducted by the Philippine government, in cooperation with the United Nations humanitarian agency.
The appeal calls for urgent assistance for the following: (1) non-food items and shelter, such as kitchen utensils, blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, clothing including underwear; (2) temporary shelters; (3) water, hygiene and sanitation items including soap, hygiene kits and latrines; and (4) food, preferably ready-to-eat and with appropriate nutritional content, not requiring water for cooking.
Other needs identified are clearing of debris, medical supplies, psycho-social support and livelihood support.