Foreign dignitaries visit Albay for disaster response mission


LEGAZPI CITY – Ambassadors of Spain and Australia have joined the United Nations (UN) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in launching a Humanitarian Investment Mission Plan to develop a long term scheme that would cushion the impact of disasters in Bicol.

The foreign dignitaries visited Albay on Sunday to conduct an assessment on the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Rolly that hit the region last November 1, killing 20 people and destroying billions of pesos worth of agriculture products, and public and private infrastructures.

As the group prepare the details of the investment plan, they commended Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara and the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) for the province’s early disaster warning system, and preemptive evacuation measures enforced before the onslaught of Typhoon Quinta in late October and Super Typhoon Rolly just a week after.

Gustavo Gonzales, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines lauded Albay for its preemptive evacuation procedure that placed out of harm’s way some 480,000 villagers who are vulnerable to floods, lahar flows, landslides, and storm surges.

He explained that the Humanitarian Investment Mission Plan aims to involve both international and national communities in a solidarity front to assist communities frequented by calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other forms of disasters.

The plan would also include addressing the impact of a global pandemic such as the coronavirus disease. “The programs would be cost-effective in terms of investments in support involving the right infrastructure, power, water, and communication facilities,” he said.

The investment plan would also cover international and national assistance to address the impact of disasters on agriculture, health, and education, and build shelters for families whose dwellings were destroyed by calamities.

Steven Robinson, the Australian ambassador, gave full support to the humanitarian mission and commended Albay for its disaster preparedness and response program.

He said the Australian government has granted P6.8 million in emergency assistance (P4.3 million for emergency assistance and P2.5 million for health and sanitation) to the typhoon victims and 60,000 family food packs.

Spain’s Ambassador Jorge Moragas Sanchez assured the province with support to overcome the disastrous situation that befell it. He said he gave a P10-million disaster response fund through the Philippine Red Cross.

Sanchez said he would meet with members of the European Union and ask them to assist in the response and recovery program in typhoon-affected communities with focus on women, children, health, and shelter needs

The group members also visited the devastated town of Tiwi where “Rolly” made its second landfall morning of All Saints Day. (PNA)

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