WASHINGTON, D.C.: United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Phil Goldberg hastily took his new post on Thursday (Friday in Manila) so he could head to Manila and help coordinate America’s aid to the typhoon-shattered nation.
“As we struggle to respond to this human disaster, we’re proud that we’re sending to the Philippines the right person for the job,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said as he swore in Goldberg.
So far, the US has delivered about 1,780 tons of food, with about 13,000 US forces helping to deliver the goods to the stricken areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan on November 8.
“We are going to continue to work to try to reach these devastated areas,” Kerry said, adding that Goldberg had accelerated his departure to leave for Manila on Monday.
The top US diplomat also thanked the Senate for rushing through Goldberg’s confirmation, “because we want to have our ambassador on the ground in the Philippines to deal with the challenges of emergency assistance.”
The official death toll stands at 3,976 with 1,602 people missing. The United Nations estimates up to four million people have been displaced, of whom only 350,000 have found shelter in evacuation centers.
Goldberg said he was taking up his new diplomatic posting with “mixed emotions.”
While he was honored to be the next US ambassador, “it’s hard to think of the suffering of so many people in the Philippines in recent weeks and all they’ve endured without a touch of sadness and without being moved,” Goldberg said.
But he paid tribute to the Filipino spirit, saying the people are “warm, but they’re also tough and resilient. There should be no doubt that they will bounce back. I have no doubt.”