• Australia Embassy officials visit Bohol and Cebu

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    Two officials from the Australian Embassy in Manila will visit the quake-shaken provinces of Bohol and Cebu to evaluate and assess the impact of the catastrophe to the various foundations supported by their government.

    Australian Ambassador to Manila Bill Tweddell and Layton Pike, the minister counsellor for Australian aid, will be in Cebu and Bohol, respectively, on October 29 and 30.

    This visit followed the Australian government’s recent announcement of a P124 million (A$3.1 million) aid package to respond to the increasing humanitarian needs following the destruction caused by the earthquake.

    “Australia, as a close friend of the Philippines, is supporting the Philippine Government’s efforts to provide relief and meet recovery needs of the people who are suffering from the devastating impact of the earthquake,” Tweddell said in the statement sent by the embassy Tuesday.

    The envoy will visit earthquake-affected areas in Cebu City, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Jesus.

    He will also meet with the partners and beneficiaries of the Australian government’s aid program in Cebu, including the Fair Trade Shop operated by the Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center Inc. and the Balay Dangpanan Crisis Center for Women and Children run by the Venue for Initiative and Genuine Development Foundation Inc.

    The two organizations have received grants from the Australian government-funded Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (Pacap) to help train farmers and also support a temporary shelter catering to women and children victims of domestic violence.

    Pike, for his part, will visit areas hardest hit by the earthquake in Bohol, including the municipality of Loon.

    He will also lead the distribution of relief supplies from the Australian government, the embassy said.

    Aside from that, the counsellor will also inspect the extent of the earthquake’s damage on gravel roads that were previously rehabilitated by the Australian Government-funded Provincial Roads Management Facility (PRMF).

    PRMF engineers are working with the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to determine the damages caused by the quake to the roads and bridges in Bohol.

    Australia’s package of support includes P44 million (A$1.1 million) worth of prepositioned supplies such as family survival kits containing sleeping mats, mosquito nets and water containers through the Philippine Red Cross, rice through the World Food Program, and health and dignity kits for women through the United Nations Population Fund.

    The country will also provide P40 million (A$1 million) to respond to other critical relief needs identified in the UN Action Plan such as shelter, water and sanitation, and early recovery activities.

    Another P40 million (A$1 million) will also be provided to replenish prepositioned supplies with partners. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON

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