Philippines: Fresh Support for Haiyan Recovery requested


Manila – ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh called on the international community to provide fresh support for the post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation needs of communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The call was made at a high level conference on Assistance for the Recovery of Yolanda (Haiyan) Affected Areas (ARYA) held in Taguig, Metro Manila today.

“We accomplished so many things when we responded together to help the communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Now, I call on all of us to come together once more to continue supporting these communities to fully recover from the damages caused by the typhoon,” SG Minh said at the opening of the conference.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Albert del Rosario also graced the event and he described the disaster as a “heart rending journey for our people.” But he said, “despite the great loss arising from this tragedy, the Philippine experience presents us with a strategic opportunity to develop an effective regional template in addressing critical post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation in face of mega disasters in ASEAN.”

SG Minh’s appeal for support was echoed by Secretary Panfilo Lacson, the Philippine Government’s Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation who is also the conference’s co-convenor. Lacson said “I invoke ASEAN  call for unity so we can take on big and powerful calamities such as Haiyan. Let us always be prepared and act with resilience. He called Typhoon Haiyan as a “superpower” which cut a swathe of devastation in the Philippines. Lacson said “the Philippine Government cannot thank ASEAN enough. We are forever grateful.”

Representatives from ASEAN Member States, Cabinet Members, ASEAN Dialogue Partners, international agencies including the United Nations, international NGOs, and private sector took part in the conference. Also present at the conference were local chief executives of affected towns in the Philippines. One of them, Mayor Leonardo Javier Jr. of Javier, Leyte Province, pitched for support in the areas of health and livelihood. The mayor said “we are seriously injured but we are rising up.”

The ASEAN Secretariat indicated that the conference was able to generate fresh commitments for ARYA through the sharing of expertise and experience on building disaster-resilient communities, technical, technological and financial contributions from various sources.

The conference was part of ASEAN’s strategic plan to support recovery efforts in the Philippines. A capacity building workshop for municipalities affected by the typhoon was conducted after the conference to raise their capacity for disaster recovery. ASEAN also called on the international community to adopt municipalities affected by Haiyan.

ARYA was spearheaded by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in collaboration with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. As the conference concluded, fellow ASEAN Member State Myanmar, represented by Ye Myint Aung, its Ambassador to the Philippines noted that the resources needed to bring back normality to the lives of the affected communities are staggering. But he said that after hearing the pledges of support from ASEAN partners, there is “more reason to be optimistic and more reason to hope that the communities affected by typhoon Yolanda will truly recover.”

The Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) in November 2013 which severely affected more than 6 million people and left 6,300 people dead in central provinces. ASEAN Member States were the first to respond to the Philippines at the onset and aftermath of the disaster.

Photo: ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh