PRESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT for Western Visayas Dr. Raul Banias (1st from left) updates the members of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council 6 on the P481 million which was approved for release by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last March 28 to fund vital infrastructure projects in the region that were damaged by typhoon Frank last year during the meeting of the RDCC 6 held at Camp Delgado, Iloilo City, May 26, 2009. Also in the picture are RDCC 6 Chair and Vice Chair, PRO6 Director Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas and OCD 6 Director Rosario Cabrera, respectively. (PIA)

Rehabilitation efforts continue in Panay

PIA 2008/08/20

Iloilo City (20 August) -- The implementation of the relief and rehabilitation projects of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are continuing in the different areas of Panay Island affected by typhoon "frank".

May Castillo, Information Officer of DSWD 6 reported during the recent press briefing of Task Force Bangon Panay that some P758,000 has been released for Cash for Work project for 11 barangays in the municipalities of Numancia and Kalibo in the province of Aklan with 400 beneficiaries.

Another P252, 450 is set to be released under the same project involving 135 beneficiaries in Aklan. The project will be implemented in Poblacion Transport Terminal, Poblacion Goding Ramos, Poblacion St., Kalino, Pastrana Park and Municipal Cemetery.

The Cash for Work provides typhoon victims the opportunity to engage in community development projects or activities and get compensated to help sustain their daily needs. Some of these activities include minor repair and cleaning of schools, day care-centers, health centers and other public places.

Last August 5, Castillo said a total of P1,910,000 has also been released to some 191 beneficiaries from Bulwang, Numancia whose houses were partially damaged through their Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) which is also part of the restoration and rehabilitation projects of the DSWD. Another P1,490,000 has been released to 149 beneficiaries in Kalibo, Aklan under the same project.

Also, a check worth P2,159,000 is ready for release to 43 ESA beneficiaries in Kalibo, Aklan once their relocation site is ready.

Castillo said related activities for ESA are on-going in barangays Estancia, Poblacion, Bakhaw Norte, Briones, all in Kalibo, Aklan; in the municipalities of San Remegio, Valderrama, Barbaza, and Sibalom in Antique province; and municipalities of Pototan, Sta. Barbara, Maasin, Cabatuan, Pavia, Balasan, Carles, Concepcion, Estancia, and Anilao in Iloilo province.

Meanwhile, the press briefing is a regular activity initiated by Task Force Bangon Panay which was created by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for an integrated rehabilitation and restoration program in the island of Panay which was heavily devastated by typhoon "frank". The Task Force is chaired by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) of Region VI.

Task Force Bangon Panay Executive Director, Presidential Adviser for Western Visayas Dr. Raul Banias said through the press briefing the media will be updated on what has been done by the different agencies in the relief and rehabilitation efforts conducted by both the local and national governments relative to the damage caused by the typhoon. (PIA)

FG gives up all his charity projects

OPS 12 MAY 2005

First Gentleman Jose Miguel Tuason Arroyo today announced in Palawan he will henceforth terminate all his charity projects to please the desire of intrigue artists and malicious rumor mongers who have been fiercely critical of his charity work.

The First Gentleman has been known for his "Bagong Ngiti sa Dating Ngebu" free dentures project for poor toothless persons, "Bagong Mata Para sa may Katarata" cataract surgery, and similar medical missions involving assistance for indigent kidney patients and children afflicted with meningitis and hydrocephalus.

He made the decision to terminate all his charity missions in reaction to intrigues that he is using his projects, particularly those benefiting military and police personnel, to check on the loyalty of the uniformed services of government.

The announcement has prompted Mr. Arroyo’s supporters and sympathizers to ask who possibly could take his place and serve the needs of poor but deserving people who have found in the First Gentleman a loving benefactor.

"Who would now shell out P5,000 for the dentures of a poor toothless vendor or foot soldier so he could smile with confidence again, and extend help to those who have less in life?" one Arroyo sympathizer asked.

The First Gentleman flew today to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Command in Puerto Princesa City to lead the ceremonial fitting and distribution of free dentures to 444 Wescom soldiers and civilian personnel and their dependents.

"You are lucky because you are the last batch of my project’s beneficiaries," said Mr. Arroyo who, observers noted, was noticeably emotional when he made the announcement.

The same observers said his audience responded with similar emotion and expressed sadness over the First Gentleman’s decision.

Earlier reports quoted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo saying she would ask Mr. Arroyo to discontinue his free dentures project for soldiers because certain quarters have ascribed political color to it.

Upon learning of the First Gentleman’s announcement, Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) director, said the poor people would be the first to be affected by Mr. Arroyo’s decision.

Alfiler said they would appeal to the President to allow the First Gentleman to continue his "honest to goodness projects, and real charity projects such as his financial support for the chemotherapy of cancer patients, hydrocephalus and meningocoele mission and free kidney transplants" at the PGH.

Dr. Ildefonso Costales, Isabela Southern District Hospital chief, said the poor people will end up losers and sorry with the cancellation of the First Gentleman’s charity projects, especially his free dentures and free cataract operation projects the costs of which poor patients could never afford.

Costales appealed to the First Gentleman not to be affected by the intrigues against him and not to cancel his projects as many poor people look up to him as their last hope.

Dr. George Acepcion, chief of Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital in Cabatuan, Iloilo, shared the same sentiments. He said many poor cataract patients would go blind if not for the free cataract operation project of Mr. Arroyo. Many patients in Iloilo have benefited from the First Gentleman’s medical missions, Acepcion said.

Mr. Arroyo’s free dentures project was initially intended for indigent vendors from the public markets in Metro Manila to enable them to regain their smile and self confidence and be more effective and productive salespersons. It was launched on October 27, 2004 and later expanded to benefit more groups.

Subsequent beneficiaries included uniformed and non-uniformed police personnel and their dependents; Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel and their dependents; PGH employes and utility workers, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic enforcers and metro aides; National Park Development Committee’s employes and park attendants in Rizal Park and in Mt. Makiling in UP-Los Banos;

"Kalsada Natin, Alagaan Natin" (KNAN) workers and employes of the DPWH-NCR; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) military and civilian employes and their beneficiaries, National Press Club members and other media men; taxicab drivers and poor residents in Pampanga, Bohol, Cebu and Santiago City, Isabela and indigenous people from Ifugao.

To date, at least 7,203 poor people have already benefited from his free dentures project, while over 7,000 indigent patients have been served by his free cataract surgery mission.

Mr. Arroyo’s free kidney transplant project, aptly dubbed "Bagong Bato, Bagong Buhay," under which he shoulders the cost of the transplant operation while the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) finances the anti-rejection medicines, has similarly saved many lives. The project’s regular venues are the National Kidney and Transplant Institute and PGH.

The First Gentleman’s monthly hydrocephalus and meningocoele mission at PGH has provided help to 135 patients, most of whom are children since it started in August 2004. It started as a quarterly mission at PGH in 2001.

Aside from his charity projects, Mr. Arroyo also supports the Dialysis Center at the Malacanang Clinic which provides free dialysis, hemo and peritoneal to poor patients with end-stage renal diseases.

He has likewise been a patron of Philippine sports.

Upon arrival from official U.S. visit: PGMA to succor typhoon Frank’s victims & their families

OPS 26 JUNE 2008

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will come to the succor of typhoon Frank’s victims immediately upon her arrival in the Philippines early Monday morning.

The President -- who is scheduled to arrive via Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at around 4:30 a.m. -- is expected to cross over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) headquarters at Villamor Air Base to send off planes-load of relief goods for the howler’s victims.

The PAF’s planes on mercy mission shall take off from the PAF’s 505th Wing.

A day after her arrival from her 10-day visit to the United States, President Arroyo shall also fly to Iloilo City where she will not only preside over the regular Tuesday Cabinet meeting, but also meet with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

The NDCC shall update the President on the government’s search and rescue/retrieval (SAR) operations for the victims of typhoon Frank, especially the victims of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars of Sulpicio Lines whose ships have been grounded to check on their sea-worthiness.

The President is also expected to go around the areas devastated by typhoon Frank whose sneak visit to the country over the weekend has so far left some 1,100 people dead.

Even while in the United States, the President had remained hands-on and on top of the situation in her government’s management of SAR efforts to alleviate the plight of Frank’s victims.

The President had been issuing directives via video tele-conferences with her Cabinet members and with NDCC officials to get to the bottom of the MV Princess of the Stars tragedy.

President Arroyo’s directives include giving government aid for ferry disaster victims and their families; and that pending review of Philippine Coast Guard protocols, “no vessel sails if it would pass possible typhoon path.”

PGMA assures U.S. Filipino community she’s on top of situation on relief, rescue operations

OPS 26 JUNE 2008

WASHINGTON – June 25 (via PLDT) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today assured the Filipino community here that she is completely engaged “on a minute to minute basis” in the rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines in the wake of “Typhoon” Frank widespread damage in the Philippines.

In her message at the reception for the Filipino community in Washington DC held at the Willard Hotel where she is staying, the President said she is in constant touch with officials and agencies involved in post-typhoon operations.

“We are completely engaged with activities on the ground practically on a minute-by-minute basis,” she told the overflowing crowd at Willard Hotel’s main ballroom.

She said that as of 6 p.m., Jan. 25 Manila time, or 6 a.m. Jan. 24, Washington time, the total number of affected families was 400,000 in 3,000 barangays, 200 municipalities and 38 cities in 38 provinces in the Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila.

She pointed out that she had been calling disaster coordinating council meetings almost daily, as she shrugged off calls for her to cut short her working visit to the United States and return home to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.

“We have been coordinating disaster relief/and aid from allies here in Washington and everywhere else,” the President told the Filipino community.

During the reception, Filipinos based in Washington chipped in more than P100,000 as their “initial” contribution to the typhoon relief operations back home.

“We are doing everything possible to aid in the cleanup, provide disaster relief, and bring comfort to the families of the victims. We are holding the ferry company accountable, to ensure that we find out how this ferry tragedy could have occurred, so that we can take steps to make sure it never happens again,” she said.

She expressed her gratitude to President Bush for the US government’s quick response to her request for assistance in the aftermath of the typhoon.

When she arrived in Washington, the President said, President Bush sent the USNS Stockhom, two helicopters, a P-3 marine surveillance aircraft and US Navy divers to help in the rescue and recovery effort.

During her meeting with the US President, the latter dispatched the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to Philippines, along with one cruiser, three destroyers and one frigate and other supporting vessels.

The vessels will assist in transporting cargo, aerial damage assessment, search and rescue, production and delivery of potable water, medical assistance and machinery repair, the President said.

She thanked the kababayans for their remittances which have “immensely contributed to the growing Philippine economy.”

“It has helped us afford our rice self-sufficiency program,” the President added.

She explained that while Filipino farmers are the most productive in Asia, the Philippines has a smaller landmass for rice production compared to Thailand or Vietnam, among other countries.

“The Philippines is a rocky, densely populated archipelago, with relatively few sources of fresh water, and frequently visited by typhoons. Still, we are 90 percent rice self-sufficient today,” she added.

The President pointed out that historically, it is cheaper for the country to source out its rice supply requirements from markets instead of going for self-sufficiency in the staple food.

“But the new economics of global food security now make it imperative that we control our own destiny in terms of rice. We are moving to rice self-sufficiency within five years,” she said.

PIA 6/27/2008 - Relief goods are unloaded for distribution in a community hit by typhoon Frank in Panay, as part of the massive relief operations of government. (US NAVY PHOTO/PIA)