(Remarks at the joint press briefing with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.)
THANK you, Secretary Locsin. Greetings, Assistant Secretary [for the] Office of American Affairs Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga and Assistant Secretary [for the] Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy Eduardo Meñez, and thank you for joining us today. Greetings to other colleagues and members of the press.
And thank you, Secretary Locsin, for hosting this joint press event, and for your expression of appreciation. I commend the response efforts of the Philippine government to help individuals, families and communities recover and rebuild their lives following Supertyphoon Odette. As the United States Charge d’Affaires, I would like to share additional details about the steps taken by the US government to support the Philippines’s relief efforts for [affected] communities.
First and foremost, on behalf of the American people, I extend our heartfelt [sympathies] to the millions of Filipinos affected by Typhoon Odette, especially to those who lost loved ones in this terrible storm. Given the level of destruction and displacement across a large geographic area and multiple provinces as a result, hundreds of thousands are in need of immediate assistance.
I am honored to share that the US has announced an additional P950 million in humanitarian assistance to help meet the immediate needs of Filipinos affected by Typhoon Odette. This brings the total US-government assistance for this typhoon response to more than P1 billion. With this new assistance, [my country]—through the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, will provide food, water, sanitation, and shelter assistance to help keep people healthy, and to protect the most vulnerable.
I am very pleased to be here today with Secretary Locsin and others to announce this robust assistance from the American people to support the immediate needs of individuals and families in the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Odette. This will help ensure that food and other life-saving supplies reach those most in need.
Last week the US government, through USAID, provided an initial P10 million in immediate assistance to support communities devastated by Typhoon Odette. To assist the Philippine government’s relief efforts, USAID partner Action Against Hunger is providing food, water, hygiene supplies and other relief items to people affected by the typhoon in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. This initial USAID assistance is also helping to restore water-supply services and sanitation facilities, as well as promote hygiene practices to keep people safe and healthy.
I also announced an additional P50 million in funding from the US government through USAID to partner with the United Nations World Food Programme, or WFP. The assistance will provide logistics support to deploy humanitarian workers and transport relief supplies to communities devastated by the typhoon. Through our partnership with WFP, the US will also provide logistics and emergency telecommunications support to assist the Philippine government’s response in areas devastated by “Odette.”
We are also providing support, through an existing USAID program, to the International Organization for Migration, to help manage evacuation shelters and provide relief supplies. This includes heavy-duty plastic sheeting to meet the urgent shelter needs of 4,800 families in Southern Leyte, Dinagat, Surigao del Norte, and other typhoon-affected regions.
We will continue to partner with the Philippines to strengthen natural-disaster response and support Filipinos in their recovery efforts. Since 2010 the US, through USAID, has sent more than P17 billion in disaster-relief and recovery aid, [as well as] boosted the disaster-risk reduction capacity of more than 100 municipalities and cities.
We are also pleased to note the contributions made by US companies to communities affected by “Odette.” To date McDonald’s has provided 20,000 meals, Coca-Cola has provided more than 26,000 liters of water, and Procter & Gamble has provided P800,000 of hygiene products via the Philippine Coast Guard.
During this year, the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between our two countries, the US remains committed to working alongside our friends, partners, and allies in the Philippines to respond to the devastating impact of “Odette,” [while bringing] much needed relief and aid to Filipinos whose lives have been upended. We look forward to our continued partnership. Thank you very much.
Image credits: @USAmbPH