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Cablegate: U.S. Typhoon Aid "First, Fast, Effective" Says Philippine

VZCZCXRO4074
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2136/01 2800853
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 070853Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5397
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
INFO RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2300
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0324
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRO/USMISSION UN ROME IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002136

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR USAID /OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR A. DWYER
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA R. THAYER
USAID W/ FOR ANE/AA AND DCHA/FPP
GENEVA FOR N. KYLOH
USUN FOR OFDA REP
BRUSSELS FOR P. BROWN
ROME FOR USAID/OHA H. SPANOS
SECDEF FOR SOLIC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR J3/J4/J5
PACOM FOR J3/J4/J5
NSC FOR P. MARCHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI PREL KPAO SENV EAGR RP
SUBJECT: U.S. TYPHOON AID "FIRST, FAST, EFFECTIVE" SAYS PHILIPPINE
FOREIGN SECRETARY

REFTELS: A) Manila 2131 B) Manila 2125 C) Manila 2112 D) Manila
2098 E) Manila 2089 F) Manila 2070 G) Manila 2056 H) Manila 2049 I)
Manila 2046

--------------------------------------------- --
Secretary's Personal Diplomacy Much Appreciated
--------------------------------------------- --

1. (SBU) At an October 7 meeting, Philippine Foreign Secretary
Alberto Romulo thanked the Ambassador for U.S. aid for Typhoon
Ondoy/Ketsana victims that was "first, fast, and got immediate
relief to those that need it most." He also expressed his pleasure
at having received a personal phone call from Secretary Clinton
regarding disaster relief "when others only sent letters." The
Foreign Secretary concurred with the Ambassador's assessment that
U.S military assistance could scale back later this week and
responsibility transfer to Philippine agencies as immediate relief
needs were met and rebuilding and recovery efforts begin.

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Manila Slowly Normalizes
------------------------

2. The number of displaced individuals continues to decline, with
335,000 persons currently housed in 559 evacuation centers, down
from an October 1 high of almost 700,000, according to the
Philippine National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Almost
1,100,000 flood victims have received some disaster assistance,
according to the NDCC. Classes at most public schools resumed
October 5, although many schools in the hardest-hit Pasig City,
Marikina, and nearby Rizal province locales remained closed for lack
of pupils, teachers, and fully-functioning-facilities. Metro Manila
authorities have restored the water supply to most districts, and
begun repairs of telecommunications and other infrastructure.
Uncollected garbage and flood debris continues to block secondary
streets in the hardest-hit metropolitan areas.

------------------------
U.S. Military Assistance
------------------------

3. (SBU) Coordination between the U.S. military, the Armed Forces of
the Philippines, U.S. and local relief agencies, and Embassy Manila
country team is strong and continues to improve, further enhancing
relief efforts. In the last 12 hours, United States Third Marine
Expeditionary Force (III MEF) personnel delivered over 46,000 food
packs, 600 bags of clothing and 300 cases of water to flood victims.
A Medical Community Action Program (MEDCAP) run by the III MEF has
treated a total of almost 4,000 patients in various Metro Manila
locations. U.S. military engineers continue to use heavy equipment
redirected from the Talon Vision/ Philippines Bilateral Exercise
(PHIBLEX) to clear roads of flood debris and drain remaining flooded
areas. U.S. Marine Sea Stallion 46E helicopters have delivered over
15,000 pounds of relief supplies to victims isolated on Talim
Island, and also evacuated a critically ill child and his family
from the island.

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USAID ASSISTANCE
----------------

4. (SBU) Working in conjunction with U.S. and Philippine military
personnel, USAID health educators and doctors are counseling
displaced persons at the Rosario Sports Complex in Pasig City and
other evacuation centers on hygiene and health issues. They have
shared information with more than 4,000 people on food safety,
diarrhea, cough etiquette, hand washing, and breastfeeding, with
particular emphasis on correct behaviors during disaster conditions.
USAID has also coordinated with Saint Scholastica College teachers

MANILA 00002136 002 OF 002


and guidance counselors to provide psychosocial services to the
evacuees, including trauma and stress counseling.
5. (SBU) The USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has
awarded $500,000 to the World Food Program (WFP) for positioning of
emergency and operations support equipment. OFDA has agreed to also
support International Organization for Migration (IOM) efforts to
track displaced persons living in evacuation centers and elsewhere,
so they can reconnect with friends and family. USAID staff will
work with the World Food Program, the NDCC and the U.S. military, as
the latter uses aerial reconnaissance to identify any large groups
of flood victims who may have not received required assistance.
--------------------------------------------- ----
MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE U.S. CONTRIBUTION CONTINUES
--------------------------------------------- ----

6. (U) All major newspapers prominently featured photos of the
Ambassador handing relief supplies to flood victims, as well as of
U.S. Marine helicopter operations. Business World, the country's
premier business daily, exhibited a photo of U.S. marine operating
heavy equipment during a clean-up project in Metro Manila, and
several dailies noted that the U.S. troops providing disaster relief
had been redirected from PHIBLEX exercises. The ABS-CBN television
network reported extensively on the Medical Community Action Program
run by the U.S. III MEF in the Ultra Sports Stadium in Pasig City,
while the NBN network covered the U.S. military's aerial relief
missions to Talim island.

----------
Next Steps
----------

7. (U) In coordination with Philippine authorities and international
relief organizations, the Embassy interagency team will continue its
efforts to provide aid to those affected by tropical storm
Ondoy/Kestsana. Typhoon Pepeng/Parma is predicted to leave the
Philippines by October 9, after drifting southwest over central
Luzon.

Kenney

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