U.S. Extends Helping Hand to Philippines

During his December 18 visit in the Philippines, Secretary of State Kerry (in white shirt at left) surveyed the bags of rice destined to help victims of the November typhoon.
During his December 18 visit in the Philippines, Secretary of State Kerry (in white shirt at left) surveyed the bags of rice destined to help victims of the November typhoon.

By Jane Morse
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
18 December 2013

The United States is extending both a reliable helping hand and a hand of long-term friendship to the Philippines as that nation struggles to recover from a devastating typhoon that leveled large swaths of the country November 8.

“We intend to be here by the side of our friends,” Secretary of State John Kerry said December 18 at the airport in Tacloban, a city largely destroyed by the typhoon. “We will work closely with our friends in the Philippines to rebuild this region even better and stronger and safer,” he said.

To that end, the secretary announced that, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. government will commit an additional $25 million in humanitarian aid to provide food, clean water, shelter materials and other supplies for millions of people affected by the typhoon.

The additional assistance brings the total U.S. aid package for the Philippines to more than $86 million.

Kerry lauded the “incredible work” already done by U.S. agencies in close partnership with the Philippine government. He also said private sector concerns, nongovernmental organizations, faith-based groups and diaspora communities “have shown a remarkable willingness of leadership and generosity to come together and deal with this catastrophe.”

Kerry’s remarks and a fact sheet released by the U.S. Department of State show U.S. aid to the Philippines has come in the following forms:

• U.S.-supported programs that help trace, identify and reunite unaccompanied children with their families.

• U.S.-supported community-level measures to prevent and combat child trafficking.

• A U.S.-supported feasibility study to develop Tacloban’s airport.

• USAID agreements with Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola for a public-private partnership that will help more than 2,000 small convenience stores to repair, restock and rehabilitate their shops.

• A Citi Foundation fundraising effort that has brought in $1 million for the recovery effort in addition to the foundation’s contribution of an additional $500,000 to help the Philippines rebuild.

Even as predictions of the November typhoon were being made, the U.S. government prepositioned disaster response experts in Manila and was among the first international responders on the ground to provide aid after the storm made landfall, according to the State Department fact sheet. The U.S. military also provided 24-hour logistical support for relief operations in the early days after the disaster.

“Last month’s typhoon broke the world’s heart,” Kerry said, “but what is certain is it didn’t break the spirit of the people here. The resilience, the courage, the determination to rebuild and to remake what was inspires all of us. And the truth is that what’s been happening here since the moment this storm passed away is inspiring to everybody.”