Australia to continue emergency relief in Leyte, Cebu

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 07 2014 04:50 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2014 12:50 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Australian government is continuing its emergency relief and rehabilitation operations for Typhoon Yolanda victims in Leyte and Cebu.

“Certainly, the ongoing efforts of the government will be there for sometime,” said Commanding officer Leif Maxfield of HMAS Tobruk that sailed to Ormoc, Cebu and Tacloban last November to provide logistics support and classroom rehabilitation.

The ship originally came from Australia on Nov. 28 and went straight to Ormoc carrying army and engineering personnel.

The vessel also went to Cebu for World Food Program (WFP) activities before returning to Ormoc where the Australian contingent was working on school rehabilitation.

“Our aim was to put engineers and start reclaiming some of those schools so children could start classes,” Maxfield told The STAR in an interview on board Tobruk, currently docked in Manila.

He said Australia’s response showed that the Philippines and Australia are “supporting each other, particularly through difficult circumstances.”

HMAS Tobruk returned to the Philippines for a three-day port visit yesterday. It is the ship’s first visit back to the Philippines since it was deployed to Leyte last November.

With 200 crewmembers, of whom about 35 are officers and 45 female, Maxfield said Filipinos Henry Balancio and Erik Catada are part of the crew.

Tobruk hosted a reception last night with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell and other senior Filipino officials.

Following the port visit to Manila, Tobruk will sail to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for a three-day visit.