The response of the international community to the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda is simply overwhelming. Foreign governments and multinational corporations of the world, as well as local companies and foundations, gave assistance in supplies, equipment, manpower and cash donations.
What is also very heart-warming are the foreign and local volunteers who came from non-government organizations (NGOs) who went to Leyte, Samar, northern Cebu and northern Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique in Panay Island. It really feels good to know that there is humanity out there who shares our tremendous grief of the recent calamity.
My daughter and I were in Baguio four weeks ago to lend support to our son who has organized a big event in their university where the guest of honor is a good friend of mine. While staying at the Baguio Country Club (BCC), courtesy of a good friend, I met two lady foreign volunteers who just came from Tacloban in Leyte. One came from America, while the other came from Germany. They belong to the same organization.
It was a great experience meeting these two foreign volunteers who helped the survivors of the super-storm that devastated Tacloban and the adjacent towns of Leyte. I invited them for lunch or dinner in the house in Metro Manila, but they were already leaving the country in a few days.
The lady from Germany was going to Western Australia to visit the office of their rescue volunteer organization. I thought, what a fulfilling life!
My column last week focused on the foreign aid that came in terms of supplies, equipment and cash donations. I would like to touch now on the manpower that were sent by foreign governments which gives a face to the herculean humanitarian efforts. My article will also mention the contributions done by the local companies in the country.
After the Unites States of America where1,000 Marines were deployed in their relief operations, the biggest group came from Israel with 200 doctors, nurses, paramedics and other professionals. There is a bond between the Israeli and Filipino people that many are not aware of.
The Israeli government perhaps will never forget the kindness when the Philippines in the late 1930s welcomed more than a thousand Jewish refugees who escaped from the genocide in Germany and Austria at the start of World War II. While all other countries in the world would not accept the Jews from Europe, then President Manuel L. Quezon agreed to accept the refugees who were being persecuted by Hitler.
After Israel, the second-biggest contingent came from Canada, a country that is known for caring for other people in the world. Canada sent more than 100 medical professionals and other specialists. Their work did not receive as much attention since they operated in the province of Capiz in northern Panay that was also devastated by Yolanda. Incidentally, there are 800,000 or close to a million Filipinos living in Canada.
From Europe, the biggest group from France whose government sent 60 relief workers composed of fire fighters, civil security and crisis personnel. They also brought in 100 tons of equipment, materials for shelter and water purification systems. In the past, I recall that the great country of France has also sent in their emergency experts.
The other aid workers from Europe came from Belgium with 35 doctors and nurses, as well as Switzerland with 19 experts in emergency relief. I have mentioned in my previous article that Germany and Spain also sent manpower to help out in the rescue and relief operations.
From Down Under, Australia sent a total of 21 doctors, nurses and logisticians on top of the $30 million in foreign aid that is equivalent to P1.3 billion. To further help out the survivors of the super typhoon, the Australian government deployed two Hercules C-130 J and two C-17A GlobeMaster planes from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The Philippines will have no problems in funding the reconstruction efforts. On top of the P100-billion allotment for rehabilitation in the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA), there are ample foreign loans from multilateral financing institutions (MFIs), such as the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
I have written on the $500 million plus $408 million from the World Bank or a total of $908 million in financing the reconstruction program. I also wrote of the $392-million loan from the ADB, but failed to mention the $500-million budget support that was earlier approved. ADB also gave a $23-million grant to help the Philippines.
Aside from the WB and ADB, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also offered a similar amount of $500 million to assist in the recovery of the devastated areas in the Visayas. JICA likewise gave a foreign aid of $52 million or equivalent of P2.2 billion in emergency grant to the Philippines.
In Asia, our Asean neighbor Thailand gave a donation of 20 million baht or an equivalent of P27 million through their now beleaguered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Indonesia for its part gave $1 million in financial aid or P44 million and the use of their Hercules C-130 aircrafts that brought in the relief supplies.
Daimler AG, the German maker of Mercedes cars and trucks, donated 500,000 euros or P30 million. Likewise, the South Korean Hyundai company here made a remarkable contribution of P50 million similar to Toyota Motors Philippines that gave P50 million together with the GT Corporation of tycoon George Ty.
Top conglomerates have committed P100 million contributions in cash and in kind like the SM group of Henry Sy, San Miguel Corporation and the PLDT and Metro Pacific group of Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP). The Lucio Tan group also committed a similar amount. Let us see what happens. Not reported in the same league are the Ayala Corp. and the companies of tycoons John Gokongwei and Alfonso Yuchengco.