7 billion people
have a Red Cross or Red Crescent story
May 8, 2014
GENEVA – Everyday
most of the seven billion people in the world are touched by the Red
Cross and Red Crescent without even realizing it. Almost everyone – or
someone they know – has donated blood or received a first aid tip or
been visited by a volunteer, perhaps not knowing it was their local
Red Cross or Red Crescent in action. Annually, May 8 is World Red
Cross Red Crescent Day. Today we celebrate the power of community and
people helping people, both in the spotlight during crises and
behind-the-scenes in day-to-day life.
More than 17 million Red
Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and 80 million members interact with
friends, families and neighbours the world-over. Their service has a
positive impact on the lives of every member of their community. They
serve in places like hospitals, schools, community centres and
gatherings, sometimes directly in peoples’ homes – all the while
providing life-changing and at times life-saving services.
The International Red Cross
and Red Crescent Movement – comprised of the International Committee
of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies, and 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies – celebrates more than 150 years of humanitarian action
worldwide. Across the globe, the Red Cross and Red Crescent helps
support people every day of every year – in community programmes,
responding to crises and inspiring hope.
“People instinctively want
to contribute and give. This has been part of human nature throughout
history,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “There is a
humanitarian in each of us, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent creates
a space where people mobilize together to amplify the impact of their
"The size, outreach and
grassroots work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer network
across the world are simply unique," said Yves Daccord,
Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Wherever I go, people have stories to share with me about people they
know in our Movement."
Almost everyone has a Red
Cross or Red Crescent story. On World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, we
invite everyone to share their story with family and friends and at
Chiz slams gov’t
agencies for slow response to post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts
By Office of Senator Chiz
May 7, 2014
PASAY CITY – Senator
Chiz Escudero expressed frustration over the failure of some
government agencies to act swiftly to reconstruct areas hit by super
typhoon Yolanda despite the approval of a multi-billion post-disaster
funding months ago to rehabilitate communities leveled by the monster
In today’s hearing of the
joint congressional oversight committees on public expenditures,
Escudero noted the lack of sense urgency among executive agencies
tasked to put together a massive rehabilitation program for provinces
devastated by Yolanda as well as other disasters.
“I share the frustration of
the President. From what I have heard from today’s hearing, these
agencies do not share President Aquino’s sense of urgency, the
Congress’ sense of urgency,” Escudero lamented. “We have fast-tracked
the appropriation of funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation
specifically to immediately address the needs of the affected families
and communities and yet up until this minute the National Disaster
Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) cannot even come up with
the post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).”
Escudero, who co-chairs the
oversight committee, said the PDNA is necessary in order to come up
with a consolidated rehabilitation plan, but the NDRMMC admitted it is
still in the process of collecting assessments.
“This is very sad. Six
months after Yolanda, more than a year after the previous disasters we
don’t even know what exactly the affected communities need? It is not
about what we can give or what we will to give. This lackadaisical
attitude is prolonging the anguish of victims. It is bordering on
criminal already,” he said.
Escudero said agencies who
act with unreasonable protracted effort will be called to task and
will be exacted compliance to speed up the rehabilitation efforts
through the power of the oversight committees.
According to Escudero, only
about 10 percent of the total 2014 post-disaster budget has been
utilized since it was approved last December.
“Congress has appropriated a
total amount of P40 billion for 2014 and only P3 billion has been
spent as of date. It’s already been four months after the budget has
taken effect and yet the blue print for rehabilitation is still blue
or even blank. We are now entering a new cycle of rainy season, and
plans and projects will be again halted by the bad weather. How slow
can our agencies get?” he pointed out.
The executive agencies
invited to the oversight hearing were the Department of Social Welfare
and Development, the Department of Education, the Department of
Agriculture, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the
Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the Presidential
Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).
report says coal to stifle Philippine economic growth
Aquino government urged to
drop plans for coal energy expansion
May 7, 2014
MAKATI CITY, Philippines – A
new Greenpeace report outlined how the Philippines stands to lose
billions in economic revenue and incur even more unforeseen human and
environmental costs if the Aquino government continues to promote
dirty coal energy even in this age of accelerated climate change.
Greenpeace’s True Cost of
Coal Volume 1 is an overview of how coal has forever disadvantaged the
Philippines in terms of environmental and health impacts, damages to
agriculture and marine life and more. The report also exposed how
government officials and key players in the Energy sector continue to
mislead the public claiming how coal investments will propel the
nation to a more energy secure future, when in fact worldwide, coal is
destroying lands and livelihood and endangering people’s health and
well-being in the name of development.
“Our leaders have always
envisioned a green and prosperous Philippines and yet, by promoting
dirty coal projects, they are burning our chances of a more
sustainable economic development. What’s more, they are asking
Filipinos to pay dearly for a future marked by more deadly and extreme
weather events aggravated by the burning of fossil fuels like coal,”
said Reuben Andrew Muni, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace
Philippines. “This report should make President Aquino and his energy
officials to re-think about approving more coal-fired plants, aside
from the 45 plants currently in the pipeline.”
Coal is a highly polluting
energy source and emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil
and natural gas. From mine to sky, from extraction to combustion, coal
pollutes every step of the way. The huge environmental and social
costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for
developing countries. More importantly, coal promoters continually
overlook the increasingly urgent need to curtail fossil fuels use due
to climate change.
The first of three parts,
True Cost of Coal Volume 1 focused on the external costs of coal
energy production in the Philippines – from mining to importation.
Research has shown that coal is not as cheap as its promoters have
claimed it to be.
A typical new 600-MW coal
plant has price tag of roughly USD 2 billion. Furthermore, the
Philippines is hostage to international fossil fuel markets for the
cost of fuel which can be up to 70% of the total generation cost
passed on to the consumers by the government and the power utilities
Another point to consider is
the fact that more than 34% of the Philippine’s power generation comes
from imported coal from Indonesia. This demand for coal locks the
country into a problematic paradigm, where it relies on a resource
(coal) that it cannot produce domestically and must therefore import.
“By constantly spending
money to acquire foreign coal, the Philippines is unnecessarily
squandering its foreign currency, sending it abroad, which negatively
affects its balance of trade, as well as its energy independence, said
Amalie Obusan, Regional Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace
Southeast Asia. “Compare this with Renewable Energy which is clean and
naturally abundant in the Philippines. While the price of coal rises,
the price of wind and sun doesn’t change, it is always free.”
According to the Department
of Energy, geothermal energy alone has already had a massive impact on
foreign exchange over time, through displacement of imported fuels.
The Philippines has in fact saved about USD 7,074,870,000 billion
The Greenpeace report also
gave key insights on how coal powered plants operating in the country
have endangered coal-affected communities and the natural environment
. Laws and other policy instruments that were blatantly disregarded
both by coal companies and the government were also made known in the
Greenpeace laments the
Aquino government’s clear bias for coal and its mere token of support
for RE. While there is a slow push for the implementation of the
Renewable Energy Act of 2008, the DOE is swift to defend and promote
coal as the primary source of electricity in the country.
“Coal is not cheap and the
human and environmental costs of dirty energy are just too high to
ignore. We cannot allow the status quo to continue,” added Muni. “The
goal of inclusive economic growth need not be in sharp contradiction
with the goal of environmental protection and conservation. Clean and
renewable energy is possible. We must use it to our advantage and end
the age of coal.”
target mainstream Americans in tourism drive
By OVP Media
May 6, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The
Philippines should take advantage of the goodwill generated by the
recent visit to Manila of President Barack Obama as well as the recent
upgrade in the safety rating of the aviation sector to convince more
Americans to visit the country.
Vice President Jejomar C.
Binay issued the statement after the Philippine Embassy in Washington,
D.C. said it drew more than 6,000 visitors after it opened its doors
to the public on Saturday as part of the annual Passport DC Around the
World Embassy Tour.
Judging by what Ambassador
Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. described as the overwhelming number of visitors
who came to experience Filipino culture, the Vice President said the
Department of Tourism should take advantage of this interest among
mainstream Americans to get more of them to visit the Philippines.
The Vice President noted
that while Americans are on top of the list of foreign visitors, with
a total of 642,626 arriving from the US last year, these are mostly
balikbayans spending their holidays in the Philippines.
“The men and women of our
Embassy in Washington, D.C. did a very commendable job in letting
hundreds of Americans know why we say it’s more fun in the
Philippines,” the Vice President said. “We need to do more of this, we
need to be more creative in attracting more foreign tourists to visit
He noted that the Embassy,
which was participating in the event for the first time, was expecting
only 3,000 visitors but as it turned out a record 6,105 people, mostly
Americans and other nationalities, came to see the dance, classical
music and martial arts performances and also have a taste of Filipino
cuisine such as lechon, pancit and lumpia.
“This and the tremendous
goodwill generated by the recent visit of President Obama as well as
the granting of Category 1 status offer opportunities for exponential
growth for Philippine tourism,” Vice President Binay said.
“These opportunities must be
matched by an intensive airport rehabilitation and modernization
program as well as the expansion of existing flight routes of
Philippine carriers and the opening of new routes to non-traditional
destinations,” he said.
With the recent safety
upgrade by the Federal Aviation Administration, Philippine Airlines is
expected to open new routes to New York and Chicago while Cebu Pacific
is reportedly considering flying to Hawaii and the West Coast.
The Vice President said he
hopes the Department of Tourism could provide additional support to
the Embassy for next year’s Around the World Embassy Tour organized
every year by the District of Columbia Cultural Tourism Office.
The Vice President, at the
same time, thanked the US-Philippines Society for its efforts in
raising the profile of the Philippines in the US through, among
others, cultural initiatives such as the performances in New York and
Washington, D.C. of the Bayanihan Dance Company and the Madrigal
He also thanked the
US-Philippines Society for organizing the After the Storm Concert
benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda at the Kennedy Center
on 15 June. Among those expected to take part in the concert are
Broadway artist Lea Salonga, singer Apl.de.ap and actor Lou Diamond
Six months after
Typhoon Haiyan, major long-term recovery needs remain
May 5, 2014
MANILA – Six months
after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the Visayas region of the
Philippines, millions remain in a precarious situation. The
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, one of the few
organisations to deliver humanitarian assistance across all affected
islands, has now launched an ambitious plan geared towards supporting
the long-term recovery of survivors.
16 million people were
affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with thousands losing family members,
homes and incomes. While the greatest intensity of need is in the
Eastern Visayas, people in other more remote areas also need help. The
Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement recovery plan pledges to help
775,000 of the most vulnerable people to recover and improve their
resilience to future disasters.
“Affected communities have
shown remarkable strength and many are on the road to recovery.
However, high levels of pre-existing poverty are holding people back
and in some areas basic services have not been re-established”, says
Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “Our recovery
work will focus on restoring shelter, livelihoods and access to health
care, to help affected communities overcome the hardships of the past
six months and become self-reliant again.”
Since the disaster struck,
the Philippine Red Cross, together with the International Federation
of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and over 50 national societies from
around the world have between them distributed emergency relief,
including food, shelter items and cash, to more than 1 million people.
Thousands more received medical attention from Red Cross emergency
“We are very proud of the
solidarity and good cooperation the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement has demonstrated, mobilising quickly and effectively
to respond after Haiyan”, says Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of
Philippine Red Cross, adding “Our most unique asset is our volunteer
base. Over 8,000 Red Cross volunteers have been at the forefront of
the emergency response, alongside the hundreds of international and
national staff deployed to the affected area.”
The recovery plan, amounting
to 320 million Swiss Francs will run over the next three years. As
well as helping survivors to rebuild their lives, it will enhance the
Philippine Red Cross’ capacity to respond to future disasters through
targeted skills training for volunteers and strengthening expertise in
disaster management and disaster risk reduction.
Meanwhile, work to rebuild
damaged health care facilities and water networks in affected areas is
well under way, as are livelihood support programs delivering cash
grants, training and asset replacement.
In the aftermath of the
disaster, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement distributed cash
grants to 75,000 households and met 25% of the emergency shelter needs
of survivors, providing tents, tarpaulins and other materials to
almost 140,000 households. Support has already begun to roll out to
help families build more durable homes, together with projects
involving the construction of shelters.
Typhoon Haiyan Emergency
appeals launched by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement have collectively raised 315 million Swiss Francs (USD 357
million) so far.
HILL MEETING. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, accompanied by
Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos and
Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay discuss bilateral issues with
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Chair of the Sub-Committee on East
Asia and Pacific Affairs of the United States Senate, during a
meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
Photo by Ariel Penaranda)
leaders assure VP Binay of their support for Haiyan rehabilitation,
enhanced defense cooperation
By OVP Media
May 4, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The
Philippines can count on the continued support of leaders of the
United States Congress not only in Manila's efforts to rehabilitate
areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda but also to further strengthen the
alliance between the two countries.
The assurance was given to
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during his meetings with US
congressional leaders at Capitol Hill on Thursday, the Philippine
Embassy said in a statement released today.
"I am very glad to receive
the assurances of US congressional leaders of their support for the
Philippines and the enduring friendship between our countries and the
Filipino and American peoples," said the Vice President, who is in
Washington to keynote the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The Embassy said the Vice
President, accompanied by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., held
separate meetings with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Chairman of the
Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs; California Rep.
Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Ohio
Rep. Steve Chabot, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the
In their meetings, Vice
President Binay reiterated the Philippine Government's appreciation
for the immediate and comprehensive assistance extended by the US
Government to the typhoon affected communities in Central Visayas.
The Vice President said the
US legislators expressed hope for the immediate recovery of the people
in the affected areas and assured him that the Philippine Government
could count on their support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation
The Vice President said the
US congressional leaders also assured him of their support for closer
defense cooperation between the two countries and building
capabilities to respond to catastrophes and natural disasters. They
also pointed to the importance of the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific
"Vice President Binay's
congressional meetings showed that the bipartisan support of the US
for the Philippines and the Philippines-United States alliance is
rooted in the US Congress which represents the American people,"
Ambassador Cuisia stated.
The Vice President was
accompanied in the meetings by Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos; Makati Major
Jejomar Erwin S. Binay; Mr. Edgardo Lacson, Consultant on Trade and
Finance; Atty. Martin C. Subido, Legal Counsel; and Minister for
Legislative Affairs and Consul General Ariel R. Penaranda.
EDCA to deter
aggression, boost disaster response capabilities, help GPH attain
By OVP Media
May 2, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said today the new defense cooperation
agreement the Philippines entered into with the United States will not
only deter aggressors and provide a quick response mechanism to
disasters but will also help the Government achieve its goal of
improving the lives of the Filipino people.
Speaking before the Banyan
Tree Leadership Forum at the Center for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS) here, the Vice President said the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that was signed in Manila on Monday is an
important pillar of the country’s regional security policy as well as
an effective response mechanism to humanitarian and natural disasters.
“A stronger American
military presence in the Philippines and greater interoperability
between our respective armed forces dramatically increases our
individual and collective defense capabilities, providing a dramatic
deterrent against external aggression,” the Vice President told his
audience that included diplomats, business leaders and members of the
“Through the EDCA, we have
effectively upgraded our own security platform, without shifting a
significant portion of our limited resources to support an arms race
and procure weapons systems that exceed our normal defense
requirements,” he said.
“It will soothe and calm the
investment climate in the Philippines. It enables us to focus better
on developing a solid economic base to combat poverty, unemployment,
illiteracy and disease.”
Vice President Binay also
pointed out that EDCA does not signal a shift in the Manila’s core
strategy for regional security. “We have always believed and will
continue to hold ourselves to the principle that the future of mankind
lies not in conflict nor war, but in dialogue, cooperation,
development and peace,” he said.
The Vice President said the
Philippines will continue to pursue a peaceful solution to the
disputes in the South China Sea by opting for arbitration as provided
for in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
and supporting efforts towards the conclusion of a binding Code of
Conduct between ASEAN and China.
“Let me stress, nonetheless,
that our support for EDCA does not reflect a freezing of ties with
China. Nor do we view the disputes in the South China Sea as the
totality of our bilateral relations with China,” he said, citing the
increase in trade with Beijing that made it the country’s largest
trading partner as well as the historic and people-to-people ties.
“In the end, trade, as well
as the deep filial ties that bind our peoples will prevail over the
issues of territory and boundaries that are currently threatening our
relationship,” the Vice President said.
In his speech, Vice
President Binay also said the Philippines must further liberalize its
economy to improve the country’s competitiveness and allow it to
attract local and foreign investments in manufacturing and other
“We must harmonize local and
national laws to ensure investors of orderly business operations,” he
said. “We must cure the policy and infrastructure misalignments that
emerge as we cascade our gains to the grassroots.”
He said a true open skies
policy with an aggressive airport development program must be
undertaken alongside reforms in the electric power industry as well as
the modernization of the agriculture sector.
“And we must keep our
promise to maintain a clean and transparent government with a stable
policy regime into 2016 and beyond,” he told his audience.
Secretary Mar Roxas greets Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez
after the check turnover held at Tiera de Milagrosa, Palo, Leyte
on April 10, 2014. Tacloban City received P230 M for repair of
key LGU buildings under the government’s Reconstruction
Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).
receive aid for damaged public buildings - DILG
By MYLES JOSEPH E. COLASITO
April 30, 2014
TACLOBAN CITY –
Following the release of national government assistance recently to
provinces, cities and municipalities hit hard by Super typhoon
Yolanda, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is
now turning its attention to helping barangays regain their ability to
deliver basic services.
DILG-8 Regional Director
Pedro A. Noval Jr. said that as announced by DILG Secretary Mar Roxas
during the turnover of checks to local government units (LGUs) last
April 10 and 11, barangays will also receive assistance for the repair
of damaged barangay halls, day care centers, and civic centers (e.g.
Dir. Noval called on city
and municipal mayors to help their barangays to prepare and submit the
supporting documents to the DILG Regional Office in Tacloban City by
May 7 so that they can benefit from the national government aid under
the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).
Aid for provincial, city and municipal governments
He also disclosed that of
the 61 affected local government units in Eastern Visayas, only the
municipality of Albuera, Leyte has yet to claim its check for P7.75M,
due to the reported failure of its Sangguniang Bayan to issue a
resolution authorizing its Mayor to enter into a Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) with DILG.
The amount released by DILG
directly to the affected municipalities, cities and provinces in
Eastern Visayas this April totaled more than 900 million pesos.
The first batch of checks
were personally handed over by Secretary Mar Roxas to the provincial
government of Leyte, the cities of Tacloban, Ormoc and Baybay, and 35
towns affected in Leyte. Other badly hit LGUs in Eastern Visayas
received the RAY funds through Dir. Noval who was instructed by Sec.
Roxas to distribute the checks so that LGUs could already start their
The mayors or local
treasurers of six municipalities and the provincial government in
Biliran, and of two towns in Samar claimed their checks at the DILG
Regional Office on April 24. The next day, Dir. Noval visited two (2)
more towns in Samar and 11 towns in Eastern Samar to hand over the
checks to their municipal mayors.
Pictorials, notarization needed
Barangays, to be able to
avail of national government aid for repair, should submit to DILG-8
Regional Office, pictorials (taken from all angles) of the affected
buildings and programs of work prepared by the City/Municipal Engineer
and approved by the Punong Barangay. These shall likewise be validated
by the C/MPDC and attested by the City/Municipal Mayor and the
Municipal DILG officer. All documents submitted must be subscribed and
sworn to by a notary public.
According to Dir. Noval,
this will help DILG hasten project evaluation and fund release since
the agency cannot feasibly do onsite validation of each damaged
building in the estimated 2,000 barangays affected by Yolanda in the
region since it only has three (3) engineers at its regional office
and a few at the field.
Call for accountability and transparency
Dir. Noval echoed Sec. Roxas’
plea for LGUs to be prudent in the use of the money, and as much as
possible, tap local labor and materials to help stir up its economy.
DILG is asking non-government organizations (NGOs), media and the
public to help the agency monitor LGU spending of RAY funds. The
department expects all repair and rehabilitation projects by LGUs to
be completed by the end of the year.
Of the P1.79 Billion
(P1,791,400,000) allocated for rehabilitation of LGU buildings under
RAY, Tacloban City received the biggest chunk at P230,687,979.22 for
the repair of the city hall, public market, and civic center. For the
provinces, Leyte LGUs received the biggest funding with allocation
amounting to P801,804,911.17, or about 45 percent of the total
rehabilitation fund. Allocation for other provinces in Region 8
include P19,917,634.41 for Biliran; P100,219,564.57 for Eastern Samar;
and P16,528,192.25 for Samar.