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Cablegate: Ambassador Inspects Typhoon Relief Efforts

VZCZCXRO6174
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1560/01 1820934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 300934Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1142
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUWDQAB/NTSB WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001560

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/EX AND EAP/MTS
STATE PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI EAGR SENV RP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR INSPECTS TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORTS

REF: A) MANILA 1504 B) Manila 1521 C) Manila 1543

1. Summary: Joined by key Philippine officials, including the
heads of the Philippine armed forces and Red Cross, Ambassador
Kenney viewed typhoon relief operations carried out by the USS
REAGAN carrier group on Sunday, June 29, in Iloilo, the epicenter of
devastation caused by Typhoon Frank, which overwhelmed the
Philippines June 21-22. Ambassador praised the rescue and
assistance results of the joint efforts of Philippine and U.S.
agencies and organizations. Efforts are now focused on delivering
essential goods and services to the over three million people
affected by this typhoon. As of June 30, the USS REAGAN had
conducted 244 air sorties to deliver 290,887 pounds of relief cargo.
President Arroyo is expected to visit Iloilo on Tuesday, July 1,
but we do not anticipate that she will visit the USS REAGAN. End
Summary.

Ambassador's Visit
------------------

2. Ambassador visited Iloilo on Panay Island on June 29 to observe
relief operations and meet with U.S. and Philippine officials.
Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano, Red
Cross Chairman Senator Dick Gordon, the Provincial Governor, and
Mayor of Iloilo City all had high praise for the generosity of the
United States and the effectiveness of the operations carried out by
personnel from the Philippine military and relief organizations, the
crew of the USS REAGAN and accompanying ships, and U.S. Mission
personnel. Ambassador graciously acknowledged their thanks,
expressed her admiration for the Philippine and U.S. teams' targeted
actions, and added that the U.S. remains steadfast in supporting our
friends as they deal with this tragedy.

3. Ambassador and a small delegation, including General Yano, took
a helicopter to the Northeastern Panay Island community of Carles to
meet with the mayor, city council members, and a large crowd of
local residents. Philippine Red Cross staff briefed the delegation
regarding damage from the storm. The delegation distributed
supplies that a Philippine C-130 and U.S. helicopters had delivered
earlier that morning. Ambassador noted that despite the terrible
challenges, the grateful locals were still smiling. Press did not
attend, but the AFP and Embassy are coordinating photos and
releases.

4. The delegation flew to USS RONALD REAGAN and its carrier group
for an orientation on their typhoon relief operations. As of June
30, the United States has conducted 244 air sorties to deliver
290,887 pounds of relief cargo. Ambassador and her party flew back
to the Iloilo airport, talked with Red Cross personnel and military,
and departed for Manila on a C-12, accompanied by General Yano.

Critical Water Supply Issues
----------------------------

5. Water shortages have been addressed by USAID and a U.S. Navy
water distribution expert. They assessed a water main that was
washed away, leaving 1.6 million residents without water.
Philippine authorities accepted the temporary solution devised by
the USN expert, which will restore service in about two weeks.
Permanent repairs will take four months. In the meantime, the
supply ship Niagara Falls arrived at Kalibo, on the Northern end of
Panay Island, and 168,000 additional bottles of water are being
distributed by two Super Puma helicopters.

OFDA Supplies Arrive
--------------------

6. The USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance aircraft loaded
with tarps, water containers, hygiene kits, and other emergency
supplies arrived in Iloilo early in the morning of June 30.
Distribution of these supplies, and of supplies from the Red Cross
and the Philippine Government is underway, using U.S. and Philippine
helicopters to reach otherwise unreachable locations.

7. An Embassy team of eight, two USAID Office of Foreign Disaster
Assistance staff, the USS RONALD REAGAN and its carrier group, the
supply ship Niagara Falls, helicopters, Navy P-3 maritime
surveillance aircraft continue to operate in the typhoon-affected
area. The Philippine Secretary of Defense told the U.S. team that
the Philippines' future needs include possible airlift support,
water purification, vaccinations, and assistance in moving more
food, water, and clothing from Manila and other parts of the
Philippines to Iloilo.

MANILA 00001560 002 OF 002

8. The Navy vessel USNS STOCKHAM remains near the sunken ferry MV
Princess of the Stars, but the joint rescue mission ceased
operations when it was revealed that a highly toxic pesticide was
included in the ferry cargo. The air assets of the STOCKHAM are
being used for distribution of supplies to affected areas.

9. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to visit
Iloilo on July 1 to assess damage and review the relief operation.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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