Posts Tagged ‘supplies’

The Philippines, China and the South China Sea: Corruption, Tricky Deals and Failure to Follow International Law

May 12, 2017

There should be a military unit exclusively to protect the resource-rich Benham Rise off Luzon’s Pacific coast. Former President Fidel Ramos proposed such sea-air-land force amid reports of foreign trespass in the 13 million-hectare undersea plateau.

Teeming with fish and believed to hold oil and minerals, Benham is within the Philippines’ extended continental shelf. Ramos, who once headed the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said an “Eastern Command” should be formed to guard it. The defense department could assign the task to the Navy, he said during the latter’s forum on ASEAN maritime security last Wednesday.

Chinese exploration vessels were sighted crisscrossing Benham waters for three months starting last Nov. One even stayed for a month in one spot, leaving only to hospitalize an injured sailor in Surigao City, northern Mindanao. Beijing alibied that the vessels merely were on innocent passage. But a southern China newspaper later reported the return of one vessel from a “special mission” to gather seabed sediment samples. Such specimens were to determine mineral presence and suitable submarine parking.

An Eastern Command could be based in an existing Cagayan naval station that also has airstrips, sources said. The station is half a day’s sailing time to Benham. It would be equivalent to the Western Command, based in Palawan, also under the Navy, guarding the exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign fishers long have been poaching in the unguarded Benham seas. A coast guard patrol confirmed their presence last week. Ramos said the Eastern Command would protect maritime interests granted by the United Nations exclusively to the Philippines.

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Beijing’s narrative in the South China Sea is that it is only trying to retrieve historic territorial waters. And it supposedly is doing so legally and peacefully. But what’s the truth, based on ancient maps, historical records, and modern maritime laws?

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio extensively has researched the issues, presented in the e-book “Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea: The South China Sea Dispute.” Download and share it for free from the following websites:

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There’s blood in the hands of those who procured dilapidated Air Force combat-utility helicopters during the Aquino administration. There would be more if present officials ignore the P1.2-billion scam.

One of the 19 choppers crashed in Tanay, Rizal, last week, killing three airmen. Another crash-landed in clear weather in Sarangani last Nov. No one perished there, but danger signs already showed.

The defective aircraft already hit the headlines about this time two years ago. A Filipino broker blew the whistle on her estranged American partner who sold the units under suspicious circumstances. Exposed was that two biddings had been rigged three years earlier to suit one party. Better suppliers either walked out or were disqualified on flimsy technicalities. The biddings were declared failures. That paved the way for negotiated purchase from the favored American. Sixty-year-old UH-1D helicopters, double the age of the pilots who would fly them, were indented. Components from junkyards were assembled in an ill-equipped California factory. Signing the contract were the defense secretary, an undersecretary, an assistant secretary. Two generals endorsed and accepted the units – delayed, decrepit, and mostly inoperative.

In his 2012 State of the Nation, then-President Noynoy Aquino announced that nine of the choppers were en route to Manila. They arrived three-and-a-half years later. Some of the aircraft were displayed during the Air Force anniversary; none were flown because the motors wouldn’t start. A Senate inquiry ensued; warnings were aired about deaths and injuries from the unfit choppers; there was no final report. What stood out was the badmouthing by Internet trolls of the whistleblower and the few newsmen who reported on the issue.

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Chinese ships’ passage off Samar ‘innocent’ – PCG

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that based on information received by the PCG, the Chinese ship seen in the waters off Guiuan, Eastern Samar between January and March was a research vessel. File

MANILA, Philippines – A Chinese research vessel spotted off Eastern Samar was only making “innocent passage,” the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday.

PCG spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that based on information received by the PCG, the Chinese ship seen in the waters off Guiuan, Eastern Samar between January and March was a research vessel.

“For as long as the Chinese ship was only passing through, then there is no problem… The Chinese ship was also monitored more than 200 nautical miles away from the shoreline,” Balilo said.

He said they have not received any report of irregularity in the activities of the unnamed Chinese vessel, like illegal fishing or dumping of waste into the water.

The PCG spokesman stressed there were other foreign ships in the area – including US and Japanese vessels.

On Wednesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reported sightings of three Chinese ships in different parts of the country.

The AFP told the House committee on national defense that the Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 03 stayed for nine days northwest of Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, while the Xiang Yang Hong 06 stayed for 19 days at 226 nautical miles northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

Image result for Xiang Yang Hong 06, photos

Xiang Yang Hong 06

Another Chinese vessel Jiangkai, with bow number 525, was allegedly seen in Mindoro last April 23. It was reportedly following US Navy ship USS Stethem that was on routine operations in the area.

Balilo said that they have no information about the Chinese ships reportedly seen in Mindoro and Ilocos Sur.

Amid reports of increasing Chinese activities in Philippine waters, the military has started moving personnel and construction materials to Pag-Asa Island in the disputed Spratlys archipelago, in preparation for the construction of a beaching ramp and the concreting of the Rancudo Airfield.

A beaching ramp is needed so that ships could unload construction materials and equipment on the island.

Puerto Princesa City-based Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario said units involved in the projects have left the Palawan mainland for their journey to Pag-Asa.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the administration has allotted P1.6 billion for the development of all nine military outposts in the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG).

“Our personnel along with some construction materials have already moved. They moved last week but they have to wait for more construction materials,” Del Rosario said.

But he could not say yet when the actual spadework would begin.

Building a beaching ramp requires dredging a shallow portion of the shoreline. At present, cargo or supplies for the island are unloaded from ships and ferried on small boats to the shore some 500 meters away. The procedure takes days or even weeks to complete.

Pag-Asa Island, which is also the seat of Palawan’s farthest fifth-class municipality, is located just 14 nautical miles from Zamora (Subi) Reef, which has been transformed into an island fortress by the Chinese.

Meanwhile, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña is pushing for more scientific studies on the resources in Benham Rise, also known as the Benham Plateau.

Dela Peña, in an address before the recent National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) regional scientific meeting in Cebu, said Benham Rise carries tremendous potential that could help the government realize its vision of reducing economic inequality.

Aside from its rich marine and aquatic resources, Benham Rise is believed to contain huge gas and oil deposits.

Benham Rise is a seismically active undersea region estimated to cover an area of about 13 million hectares located east of Luzon. It is 35 meters underwater with the shallowest point located off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela.

In April 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea recognized Benham Rise as part of the Philippines’ continental shelf and territory.

“The Department of Science and Technology is focusing on strengthening research and development initiatives in various fields, including the fisheries sector because this will provide more opportunities for our marginalized fishermen in the regions and will help them uplift their economic condition,” Dela Pena said.  – Jaime Laude, Rainier Allan Ronda


 (The authors say, China prefers places with lots of poverty and corruption and not too much interest in rule of law or human rights…)


No automatic alt text available.
For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

South China Sea: Philippines sends troops, supplies to disputed island

May 11, 2017
Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are shown from the Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week.Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has started transporting troops and supplies to a disputed island in the South China Sea in preparation for construction work that includes reinforcing and lengthening an airstrip and building a dock, an official said Thursday.

China has protested the visit last month by the Philippine defense and military chiefs to Pag-asa Island, home to Filipino soldiers and fishermen for decades, but which is also claimed by Beijing.

Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, head of the Philippine military’s Western Command, said troops and initial supplies arrived on Pag-asa island last week. About 1.6 billion pesos ($32 million) has been earmarked for the construction that will also include a fish port, solar power, water desalination plant, refurbishment of housing for soldiers and facilities for marine research and tourists.

China’s construction of seven islands nearby in the Spratly archipelago has dwarfed similar activities by rival claimants, including the Philippines, whose frosty relations with Beijing have improved significantly under President Rodrigo Duterte.


 (The authors say, China prefers places with lots of poverty and corruption and not too much interest in rule of law or human rights…)


No automatic alt text available.
For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

The complex costs of integrating refugees in Germany

October 31, 2015


A man cheers as he and other refugees arrive at the main train station in Munich, Germany Photo by Corbis

A German organization representing local municipal governments sounded the alarm this week, saying Berlin will need to feed more money down the chain. So what’s the government planning to spend, and what’s the shortfall?

Deutsche Welle

Housing, food, supplies, a personal monetary allowance, policing, education, childcare – there’s a long list of potential costs when a country takes in refugees or asylum seekers. To complicate matters further, these costs will vary from person to person, and place to place. Cities such as Munich or Stuttgart, two of the German property ladder’s priciest rungs, might have particular problems finding affordable accommodation. .

In former East Germany or northwestern cities struggling to overcome the decline of heavy industries such as mining, integrating migrants into the labor market or schools might pose the greatest problem.

Despite these potential discrepancies, the federal government has agreed on a new, unified approach to the funding issue starting in 2016. It was a key part of the package of asylum laws passed on a fast track this month . Starting in January, the national government will award each of Germany’s states a fixed sum of money – 670 euros (currently $740) – per asylum seeker, per month. It will then be up to the states and to their municipalities to divvy up this money to cover their specific costs.

“The risk here is self-evident,” warns a new report from the Deutscher Städtetag (Organization of German Cities), which represents municipal governments in Germany’s highly decentralized system. “The agreement completely neglects to obligate German state governments to pass these means on to the municipalities.”

Who pays what, where?

Stephan Articus, managing director of the Deutscher Städtetag, suggests a “transparent, unified and national process” to solve this, in which states simply pass the entire premium they receive straight on to the municipality or city where the person is living. “For, up to now, different states’ financial contributions towards the costs for municipalities have differed vastly.”


In principle, German states are legally responsible for the reception, accommodation and provision of benefits to cover the vital needs of asylum seekers. In practice – with exceptions such as Bavaria and the city-states of Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg – most states pass this responsibility on and then reimburse local governments for the costs incurred. As a 2014 federal government report from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) put it: “It is, however, virtually impossible to compare these [state figures] with one another because of different accounting periods and different variable shares.” Most states, the report continued, were aiming to shoulder between 70 and 85 percent of the municipalities’ costs at the time.

Articus’ second-in charge at the Deutscher Städtetag, Helmut Dedy, wrote an editorial to accompany Thursday’s report, playing on Angela Merkel’s now-notorious “wir schaffen das” (“we can do this”) refugee motto. Entitled “We can do this, if…,” Dedy’s thesis points out that Germany is essentially in stage one of three when it comes to refugees: reception. Stages two and three, “beginning with the approval of the refugees’ asylum applications,” will pose challenges on the local level more than for states, he posits. After identifying integration in the community, which “also requires financial resources,” as stage two, Dedy comes to the third step: “Refugees – just like other residents – need a flat, and access to the city’s schools and childcare facilities.”

Has Berlin earmarked enough?

What’s more, the Deutscher Städtetag estimates that the 670 euros is only likely to cover around two-thirds of the actual costs. The group suggests 1,000 euros per person, per month, as a more realistic level.

Like many governments, Germany’s has been unwilling to offer predicted figures, waiting instead for the data to come in – but that’s a problem for planners

One reason why per-person figures are favored over lump sums – even in the legislation – is the current uncertainty as to how many people will arrive in Germany in the coming months and years. The report offered two scenarios, one based on 500,000 new arrivals in 2016 and the other on 1.2 million. This put the total estimated costs for states and municipalities at between 7 billion and 16 billion euros – and, perhaps more importantly, it put the shortfall after implementing Berlin’s new laws at between 3.5 and 5 billion euros.

However, the report did not call for responsibility to be taken out of towns and cities’ hands – arguing that only they had the flexibility to find solutions tailored to the lay of the land.
“In economically weak regions, major programs will be needed to integrate refugees into the labor market. In regions with low unemployment, but an expensive real estate market to go with that, massive investment towards social housing will be necessary,” Dedy said.

Philippines Captures Islamic Rebel Stronghold

February 1, 2014

By John Unson ( | Updated February 1, 2014

Army combatants pose at the center of the 7-hectare camp of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Barangay Ganta in Shariff Saidona town in the second district of Maguindanao, after hoisting the Philippine flag on its parade ground where the outlawed BIFF had trained child warriors and regular recruits. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Soldiers hoisted Saturday morning the Philippine flag at the center of the biggest enclave of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Barangay Ganta in Shariff Saidona town in the province.

The seven-hectare camp, which housed more than 500 BIFF bandits led by Ustadz Karialan, fell at about dusk on Friday, after five days of air, artillery and ground offensives by combined units of the Army’s 601st Brigade, the 1st Mechanized Brigade and combatants from the 6th Infantry Division.

Soldiers, led by Col. Edgar Gonzales and Col. Edmund Pangilinan, commanding officers of the 1st Mechanized and 601st Brigades, respectively recovered close to 3,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibers and about 300 kilos of blasting chemicals and other materials for improvised explosives in makeshift shelters scattered in the camp.

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters

Local officials said the BIFF had used the camp as a springboard for its extortion and bombing activities in Maguindanao and nearby towns in North Cotabato.

Gonzales said they are thankful to barangay folks for providing them information on the exact location of the camp and its fortification details before soldiers began clearing the enclave from BIFF control.

The escape routes of the BIFF bandits the soldiers had forced out of the camp were heavily stained with blood, indicating that the group suffered heavy losses from the military assault.

Guns in the adjoining Datu Piang and Shariff Saidona towns have been silent since Saturday dawn, but the military remained on full alert, anticipating BIFF retaliations for the takeover of the camp.

The BIFF ran a shadow government in Barangay Ganta that levied excessive revolutionary taxes from local peasant communities.

The BIFF is also despised for imposing a ruthless Taliban-style justice system in areas where it operates.

In The Philippines, City Ponders a Grim Road Ahead

November 17, 2013
A family in Guiuan outside a makeshift shelter they constructed after their home was destroyed.  The town bore the full brunt of Typhoon Haiyan. Bryan Denton for The New York Times


The New York Times

It is fair to say that the American-built airstrip that serves this ravaged city of 47,000 has not seen so much activity since the end of World War II, when American forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed here during their battle to wrest the Philippines from the occupying Japanese. The residents were so grateful, they named a town nearby in his honor.

For residents of Guiuan, the first city to meet the fury of Typhoon Haiyan head on, the help could not have come a moment too soon.

“The first days after the storm struck, we felt so helpless, like we were dying,” said Mary Ann Mercado, a 19-year-old college student, as she sat in front of the rubble of her home. “Now it seems we might have hope after all.”

Walking around the tangled remains of this once-pleasant seaside community, it is hard to feel much hope. The typhoon’s monstrous winds made quick work of the city’s pastel-colored guesthouses, government buildings and wooden shacks; the storm killed 99 people and left 2,700 injured. Not a single roof was left intact, including that of the city’s Spanish Baroque basilica, a 17th-century icon that was among the oldest churches in the Philippines.

“The devastation was so complete, it stripped the leaves off every last tree,” said Capt. Neil F. Williams of the United States Navy, who is overseeing operations at Guiuan’s airport. “It was grim.”

Residents say the first few days were apocalyptic. Desperate people overwhelmed the few police officers in town as they cleared out supermarkets and corner stores. But since late last week, a surge of Philippine soldiers and police officers have calmed nerves and paved the way for an influx of relief workers, including a crew of swashbuckling French firefighters, paramedics from New York City and a team of volunteers from Manila, the Philippine capital, who have filled the grassy area next to City Hall with their color-coordinated tents. Surgeons from Doctors Without Borders, among the first to arrive, have been busy stitching up lacerations in the shell of a community clinic.

The clang of hammers on nails filled the air, as residents turned scavenged planks and sheets of corrugated metal into makeshift shelters, often within the ruins of their former homes. There were a few other milestones on Sunday: a Philippine phone company set up a satellite dish, restoring limited cellphone service, and a gas station began pumping fuel, albeit with a half-gallon limit.

Evelyn Machica, 23, whose small convenience store was destroyed by the typhoon, was the first in line, having waited six hours in the wilting sun. Behind her, hundreds of people, empty plastic bottles in hand, waited patiently.

“Without gas, we are all stuck here, and I need to find food for my parents,” said Ms. Machica, a wad of gauze covering the gash on her head caused by a collapsing wall that fell during the height of the storm.

President Benigno S. Aquino III briefly came to town on Sunday, and he offered words of encouragement to workers at City Hall. The mayor, Christopher Sheen Gonzales, has been lauded as a hero across the Philippines, having orchestrated the forced evacuation of Guiuan’s low-lying areas, a move widely credited with saving countless lives. Still, all of the city’s 18 designated shelters were felled by the winds, killing 10 of those who sought refuge inside.

Unlike Tacloban, where at least 800 people were killed, most of them swept away by a 13-foot wall of seawater, according to Tacloban’s mayor, Alfred S. Romualdez, Guiuan was largely spared a deadly storm surge. “We have nothing left, but at the same time, we feel lucky,” said Guiuan’s vice mayor, Rogelio Cablao.

With the sudden deluge of donated food keeping stomachs full, there was almost a carnival-like feel to the streets on Sunday as people returned home from a distribution center with plastic bags of rice and American military logistics experts and foreign medics strolled through the streets.

Nearly everyone smiled and waved as they sat amid the stunning ruination, a few salvaged items of clothing drying in the sun. In Quinapondan, a few dozen miles up the coast, hundreds of people showed up for Sunday Mass, hair freshly washed, and sang hymns beneath the shorn-open roof of their church.

But during conversations, the smiles faded as people pondered the road ahead. Elenita Bagores, an unemployed teacher, put on her best face as she and her 15-year-old daughter, Rica, washed out blankets and school clothes in a pail. Behind them sat a pile of lime-green wood that had been their home.

Like most people here, Ms. Bagores had no insurance and no savings. With her daughter’s school destroyed, she was unsure how Rica might continue her education. “Everyone is in the same situation, so it’s not like anyone here can help us,” she said, overcome with tears. “To be honest, I don’t see how we are going to rebuild our lives.”

As night fell, a full moon rose above the town, illuminating the smoke from hundreds of cooking fires and giving the desolation an almost magical glow.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino, center, visits the navy port where some relief supplies arrive by boat in Tacloban, on Nov. 17.  Nicolas Asfouri / AFP – Getty Images

Philippines: As Many As 2 Million Homeless After Typhoon

November 17, 2013

An Australian military worker provides support with an evacuee. The they held hands the entire duration of the flight.

An Australian military worker provides support with an evacuee. The they held hands the entire duration of the flight. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

  • Death toll rises to 3,621, Civil defence agency chief says
  • Homeless shoots up to 1.9 million from 600,000
  • 3 helicopters added to Canada’s DART team response
  • Canada’s Foreign Affairs had inquiries about 187 people; 55 not yet reached

The number of people made homeless in the Philippines by a devastating typhoon rose to 1.9 million, up from 900,000, the United Nations’ humanitarian agency said on Saturday, as international aid continues to arrive.

In Tacloban, at least 56,000 people face unsanitary conditions, according to the United Nations’ migration agency.

Another Canadian military cargo plane left Canadian Forces Base Trenton in eastern Ontario Friday night with more soldiers and aid bound for the Philippines.

About 200 members of the Canadian military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team will be in the Philippines, where 55 Canadians are among the almost 1,200 people still missing.  In addition, three CH-146 Griffon choppers will be part of the Canadian mission. Two are set to leave Canada on Sunday from Ontario’s CFB Trenton aboard a military transport plane, said Defence Minister Rob Nicholson on Saturday.

A team of 10 soldiers from Japan’s Self-Defence Force arrived Friday with medical supplies in the typhoon-hit city of Tacloban in hardest-hit Leyte Province. They will travel around the Philippine city and provide medical treatment to typhoon victims. Japan plans to send 1,180 troops to the Philippines, marking its largest oversea deployment for disaster relief.

Michael Messenger, the executive director of World Vision Canada, is on the ground in the region and says he’s moved by the “devastation and heartbreak” he sees around him.

“There are people on the side of the road holding signs saying ‘We need help, we need food,'” Messenger told CBC News on Saturday.  “Everywhere you  turn there are houses that are flattened, buildings that have crumpled.”

Images of devastation

Watch CBC reporter Andrew Lee’s footage, also appearing to the left of this story, from the devastated streets of Tacloban, one of the cities hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan.

Messenger says he’s inspired by the stories of survival, “amazing stories of resilience” that he’s hearing.

Thousands of people have sought shelter inside Tacloban’s Astrodome, while others have decided to flee the city.

UN officials say the immediate priority for humanitarian agencies over the next few days is to transport and distribute food, tarpaulins, tents, clean drinking water and basic sanitation services to survivors.

The Humanitarian Coalition, which includes five relief organizations, has raised $2.3 million so far. Six days after the earthquake in Haiti, more than $3 million had been raised.

“I think the disaster is not quite on the same scale as Haiti, and we can see a difference in terms of fundraising results,” said spokesperson Nicholas Moyer, adding that media coverage is also an issue.

“We must compete with other headlines. Whether that’s Rob Ford today or some other controversy at another time.”

The CBC’s David Common is travelling with DART in the central Philippines and says their priority is to provide medical treatment to survivors.

“We understand from members of Canada’s military here that there is a lot of dysentry and a lot of other gastrointestinal concerns, and we are seeing Ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic, put into aid packages, delivered by the Red Cross and World Vision and others,” Common said.

The aid groups are hoping to keep the curb the spread of disease as people remain in crowded shelters. The long-delayed aid is flowing more than a week after Typhoon Haiyan swept over the country with tsunami-like waves and powerful winds.

Conditions are “absolutely horrific” in Tacloban, Canadian Judy Colgan with Global Medic, told CBC’s Chris Brown.

“I’ve never seen anything anything like this before,” she said.

Her team’s key priority is getting people clean water, and on Friday it set up a water purification device on the outskirts of town that cleans 40 litres of water a minute.

“The water is very dirty with E. coli, just dirty sediment and sand, and people are bathing in it,” Cogan said. “They’re also drinking it, unfortunately, which is making them sick.”

Read the rest, see videos and photos:

A Filipino woman and her home-care worker leave on the same flight out of Tacloban.  Though the woman was not injured during the typhoon, her poor health has necessitated departure.  It is just one of the scenes of survival seen as CBC News reporters travel through the areas affected when deadly typoon Haiyan struck Saturday.

A Filipino woman and her home-care worker leave on the same flight out of Tacloban.  Though the woman was not injured during the typhoon, her poor health has necessitated departure.  It is just one of the scenes of survival seen as CBC News reporters travel through the areas affected when deadly typoon Haiyan struck Saturday. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

A woman waits at Tacloban airport, hoping to depart the devastated city.

A woman waits at Tacloban airport, hoping to depart the devastated city. The total devastation is almost unbearable. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Dr. Emanuel Aranas has the toughest job in Typhoon recovery. He must retrieve the cadavers in Tacloban.

Dr. Emanuel Aranas has the toughest job in Typhoon recovery. He must retrieve the cadavers in Tacloban. (Curt Petrovich/CBC)

While Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez says it will be

While Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez says it will be “a month” before the city returns to “normal,” this makeshift morgue suggests otherwise . (Curt Petrovich/CBC)

Philippines typhoon: Aid effort gathers pace

November 16, 2013
US military planes delivers supplies near Tacloban, 16 November
US Navy helicopters are now delivering relief supplies to many victims

The international aid effort in parts of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan is starting to have a major impact, with tens of thousands of victims of receiving supplies.

Medical teams are operating in the worst-affected areas and US helicopters flying aid to isolated settlements.

The UN says it and its partners hope to provide enough aid for six months.

Haiyan, which hit eight days ago, has killed more than 3,600 people and left about half a million homeless.

Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of the Red Cross told the Associated Press news agency: “At the moment we are ramping up a major relief effort and the supplies are coming in.”

Mr Fuller – who is in Tacloban, one of the worst-hit areas – said: “We’re setting up an emergency response hospital here, water and sanitation units.” However, he added that people in affected areas would need long-term “support with rebuilding”.

Both the Red Cross and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said they would have mobile surgical units up and running in Tacloban by the end of the weekend.

US Navy helicopters have been dropping food, water and other supplies from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which arrived off the coast on Thursday.

Uss George Washington Philippines

USS George Washington

The carrier is also expanding search-and-rescue operations. The US military said it would send about 1,000 more troops along with additional ships and aircraft to join the aid effort.

Britain will give an extra £30m ($50m) in emergency aid, bringing UK assistance to £50m, Prime Minister David Cameron announced. The UK Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) said donations from the public had reached £33m.

Although a huge international aid effort is under way, widespread infrastructure damage is hampering efforts to distribute it to some areas.

Desperate survivors are still trying to leave the coastal city of Ormoc, 105 km (65 miles) west of Tacloban, Reuters news agency reports.

Survivors walk through typhoon hit village on in Tanauan, Leyte, 16 November .
Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit land, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
A torn Philippines flag stands in the rubble in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, 16 November .
The city of Tacloban has been virtually flattened
US soldiers load relief supplies into a navy seahawk helicopter on 16 November in Tacloban .
US soldiers are now flying in supplies to the Tacloban area
People travel past debris caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Tanauan, Leyte, 16 November
Hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless by the storm

Philippine Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman acknowledged in a radio interview that the national relief response had been too slow to reach many areas.

“We will double our efforts to distribute relief goods because we’ve been hearing complaints that a lot of people have yet to receive relief goods,” she said.

About 11 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, according to UN estimates.

It was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded on land, with winds exceeding 320km/h (200 mph) unleashing massive waves. Tacloban’s airport was left in ruins.

Health experts have warned that the worst-affected areas are entering a peak danger period for the spread of infectious diseases.

The Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that as of 10:00 GMT on Saturday, 3,637 people had been reported dead, 12,501 injured and 1,186 missing. The death toll is expected to rise as further assessments are made.

Typhoon Haiyan: death toll for typhoon-ravaged Philippines doubles

November 15, 2013

The United Nations United Nations says 4,460 have been recorded killed by Typhoon Haiyan’s   destructive force in the Philippines as President Benigno Aquino faces   pressure over speed and effectiveness of local disaster response

A typhoon victim checks on her husband as she keeps him alive by manually pumping air into his lungs following his leg amputation that led to an infection, at the Divine Word hospital which still operates without electrical power on the 7th day of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in Tacloban, on the eastern island of Leyte on November 15, 2013

A typhoon victim checks on her husband as she keeps him alive by manually pumping air into his lungs following his leg amputation that led to an infection, at the Divine Word hospital which still operates without electrical power on the 7th day of the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in Tacloban Photo: AFP
US Marines and Armed Forces of the Philippines airmen assist displaced personnel off of a Philippine Air Force KC-130J Hercules aircraft as part of Operation Damayan at Villamor Air Base in Manila, the Philippines, 14 November 2013

US Marines and Armed Forces of the Philippines airmen assist displaced personnel off of a Philippine Air Force KC-130J Hercules aircraft as part of Operation Damayan at Villamor Air Base in Manila, the Philippines Photo: EPA
A rainbow appears above Typhoon Haiyan survivors desperate to catch a flight from the Tacloban airport November 15, 2013

A rainbow appears above Typhoon Haiyan survivors desperate to catch a flight from the Tacloban airport  Photo: REUTERS

By Reuters and AP

The United Nations has put the latest death toll in the typhoon-ravaged   central Philippines   at 4,460 – almost double the last official number given, as a US aircraft   carrier started unloading food and water.

The Philippines government, however, say the disaster has risen by three to   2,360.

The spokesman for the country’s civil defence agency, Maj. Reynaldo Balido,   confirmed the figure early on Friday, hours after the United Nations issued   their report.

President Benigno Aquino has faced mounting pressure to speed up the   distribution of supplies and stoked debate over the extent of casualties   from Typhoon Haiyan.

Earlier this week, he said estimates of 10,000 dead by local officials were   overstated and caused by “emotional trauma”. He had said the toll   was closer to 2,000 or 2,500, adding it could rise. His comments have drawn   scepticism from some aid workers.

“As of 13 November, the government reported that 4,460 people have died,”   the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its   daily situation report, issued out of Manila.

Official confirmed deaths stood at 2,357 on Thursday. It was unclear on   Friday, where it was still very early in Manila, if the government publicly   updated that number overnight.

Survivors have grown increasingly desperate and angry over the pace of aid   distribution, which has been hindered by paralysed local governments,   widespread looting, a lack of fuel and debris-choked roads.

The dead are still being collected and buried one week after the storm and a   tsunami-like wall of seawater slammed into coastal areas. Many corpses   remain uncovered on roadsides or under splintered homes in the worst-hit   city of Tacloban.

“There is utter devastation. People are desperate for food, water,   shelter, supplies and information about their loved ones,” Ban Ki-moon,   the UN secretary-general, said on Thursday during a visit to Latvia.

“We are doing everything possible to rush assistance to those who need it.

Now is the time for the international community to stand with the people of   the Philippines.”

Aquino has been on the defensive over his handling of the storm, given   warnings of its projected strength and the risk of a storm surge, and now   the pace of relief efforts.

He has said the death toll might have been higher had it not been for the   evacuation of people and the readying of relief supplies, but survivors say   they had little warning of any seawater surge.

Tacloban city administrator Tecson John Lim, who on Sunday estimated 10,000   likely died in his city alone, said Aquino may be deliberately downplaying   casualties.

“Of course he doesn’t want to create too much panic. Perhaps he is   grappling with whether he wants to reduce the panic so that life goes on,”   he said.

The preliminary number of missing as of Thursday, according to the Red Cross,   remained at 22,000. That could include people who have since been located,   it has said.

Edited by Steve Wilson

Philippines and U.S. discuss “increased rotational presence” of U.S. military in the Philippines

August 13, 2013
By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and the United States begin talks tomorrow to increase the rotational presence of American troops in the country, including bigger deployment of aircraft, ships, supplies and troops for humanitarian and maritime security operations.

Malacañang said the negotiations would be within the parameters of the Constitution as well as of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.

The Philippines and its former colonizer are gearing up for an expanded military cooperation amid China’s growing aggressiveness in staking its claims over vast areas in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

“This week, diplomacy and defense will once again intersect to secure our nation. This week will mark the start of our negotiations with the United States to institutionalize this policy of increased rotational presence through a framework agreement,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo.

“We are steadfastly for peace but we are ready to tap any resource and call on any alliance to do what is necessary to defend what is ours,” he said.

“Transparency is extremely important in these negotiations. Our people need to know that our laws are observed and our interests are protected at all times,” the DFA chief said.
In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said whatever is agreed upon after the negotiations would no longer need Senate ratification.

“However, for purposes of transparency, the panel will be briefing congressional leaders on the status of negotiations,” Lacierda said.

He said the decision to allow increased rotational presence of US troops was based on an evaluation of the situation by the DFA and the Department of National Defense (DND). He squelched insinuations that the US stands to benefit more from such an arrangement.

“We have an interest here also. We act according to what is in our best national interest. It’s a framework agreement. Both sides will have to discuss. Both sides will negotiate on what will be the terms mutually beneficial to both,” he said.

Asked about the possibility that this week’s negotiations would enrage China, Lacierda said: “That is their concern, not ours.”

He said that while the DFA and the DND had secured permission from President Aquino to start the negotiations, the Palace will not be directly involved in the talks.

The Philippine negotiating panel is composed of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta, Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop.

Eric John, senior negotiator for military agreements of the State Department, leads the US panel.

Not a basing deal

“It’s not a basing agreement,” said Sorreta, assistant secretary for American affairs and spokesman for the four-member negotiating team, referring to the objective of the negotiations.

The Philippines kicked out US military bases in 1992 and years later allowed the return of American troops for training and joint exercises.

The new deal will expand these activities.

Sorreta insisted the new deal would not give US forces exclusive use of local facilities or a permanent presence.

“We are engaging in this exercise of negotiations not to please the United States, but in pursuit of our own interests,” Sorreta said. “We are certainly for peace, but we are not for appeasement.”

Sorreta said the first round of talks would be held from morning to evening in the DND office at Camp Aguinaldo.

He did not give deadlines but said both panels are likely to engage in four rounds of talks before an agreement is reached.

“There are things that we can do under the existing agreements we have but we have a policy now with the United States on increased rotational presence and we want to institutionalize it,” Sorreta said. He declined to elaborate on the activities to be covered by any new agreement.

Panel member Batino clarified that any agreement would not cover specifics like the number of US troops or the equipment to be deployed. Such details, Batino said, would be determined by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the US Pacific Command.

“The framework agreement will only provide general parameters and principles under which the increased rotational presence will be implemented,” he said.

“It’s up to the Philippines to approve each activity, if it feels it is to our benefit and it is not detrimental to our interest or to our constitutional laws.”

Guiding principles

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said sovereignty, compliance with Philippine laws, and non-exclusive use of facilities by the US would be the negotiating panel’s “guiding principles.”

“It is in the interest of further deepening cooperation between our countries that we are engaging each other as regards increased rotational presence,” Gazmin said.

“This will enable the Philippines and the US to conduct activities such as bilateral exercises, including the pre-positioning of equipment for disaster response and development of Philippine facilities, among others,” he added.

Del Rosario, for his part, said the Philippine negotiators had been given “parameters that require them to ensure that our Constitution and laws are fully respected,” and had been tasked “to ensure that Philippine interests are preserved and promoted.”

“If we are to secure our people and our nation, we would need to strengthen both diplomacy and defense. Some time ago, we developed a policy and arrived at an understanding with the United States, our treaty ally, on increased rotational presence,” he added.

He said that by negotiating for increased US rotational military presence, the Philippines seeks to bring to greater heights its historic strategic relations with a key partner.

“By highlighting our treaty commitments under our Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement, we serve to keep our region stable and secure,” he said.

He also said that by agreeing to bigger US presence, the Philippines would be able to realize military modernization “even before we are able to purchase the necessary defense systems.”

He said such an arrangement would also enhance the country’s deterrent capability as well as boost maritime defense and security “even before we have ships and aircraft that we need.”

Furthermore, the country’s security forces will have better training in handling and operating state-of-the-art military equipment “even before we have the advanced hardware we wish for.”

“And equally important, our ability to provide our people and the region with timely and responsive humanitarian and disaster relief will be vastly improved,” he said.

The allies have been in talks since 2011, even before President Barack Obama announced his administration’s “pivot to Asia” policy as Washington withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“These negotiations will lead to incremental security benefits and cooperation rather than a fundamental shift in the regional military balance of power,” Patrick Cronin, of the US-based Center for a New American Security, told Reuters. “These talks are an important symbol of a refashioned alliance.”

Last year, the US announced plans to deploy a majority of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020. The US naval assets would be realigned from a roughly 50-50 split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about 60-40 split between those oceans.

The US has also increased its military aid to the Philippines from $30 million next fiscal year to about $50 million, said to be the highest level since 2000.

Lawmakers appeal for caution

As the country begins to negotiate for an expanded rotational presence of US troops, Senate President Franklin Drilon cautioned Philippine negotiators against going beyond the limits of the Constitution.

“This is my position, we have a constitutional requirement, any basing agreement must be by virtue of a treaty, duly ratified by the Senate. Therefore, we must look into the facts of this presence. If it constitutes basing, then it cannot be done except under a treaty,” Drilon said.

“They can negotiate, we will not stand in the way. But if it a basing agreement, we will call them to task. But we will not pre-audit them, so to speak,” the Senate president said.

“They know the boundaries of the Constitution and therefore, when they craft the agreement, they must consider the constitutional boundaries,” Drilon said.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a member of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said the DFA and the DND should brief the Senate on what they really are aiming for in negotiating for an increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines.

“We don’t know exactly what the arrangements are, how frequent? We want to know because it could be bases under another name,” said Marcos. “We have to examine this.”

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate committee on national defense, slammed Del Rosario for hyping up what could have been just an “operational matter” for the military.

“I think it should not be hyped. This might not even need the consent of the Senate. I don’t know why Secretary Del Rosario is drawing attention to himself,” Trillanes said.

He stressed that increasing the rotational presence of US troops should not be linked to current security threats. He said such an arrangement with the US military should be seen in the context of the need to better train, prepare, and equip Philippine forces.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said that while House leaders are supportive of the coming negotiations, they want DFA and US officials to brief them on the extent and scope of the talks. He said he had a brief talk with Del Rosario on the matter.

“It doesn’t ask Congress to do anything… and this idea of theirs is more of a coordination of their forces countenanced by existing treaties with US,” Belmonte told reporters.

“Right now we would very much want to find out where this is all coming from,” Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said. “I think Congress would very much like to see and hear who is really asking for this and for what extended purpose, we just like to know the details.” –With Pia Lee-Brago, Alexis Romero, Christina Mendez, Paolo Romero

American Civil War, March 18, 1864, Lincoln Praises Work of Women, Care Givers

March 18, 2013

On March 18, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln President Lincoln praised the women serving as nurses and “care-givers” during the American Civil War.

President Lincoln said, “if all that has been said…since the creation of the world, in praise of women, applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during the war.”

Abraham Lincoln

Mary Ann Bickerdyke (1817-1901) Known as Mother Bickerdyke, she was an energetic heroine whose sole aim during the Civil War was to more efficiently care for wounded Union soldiers.

Mary Ann Bickerdyke

Mary Ann Bickerdyke by A.H. Ritchie, 1867

Clara Barton

Walt Whitman and the Civil War Hospitals:


[Washington, D.C. Douglas Hospital (formerly "Minnesota row"), 2d and I Streets NW]

Douglas Hospital, Washington, D.C. , about 1864


Sanitary Friars Used To Raise Money, Collect Donations

Above, the Daughters of Charity, Catholic nurses and care givers

Nurses From the Holy Sisters and Nuns: Angels in The American Civil War

Image result

USS Red Rover, the U.S. Navy’s First Hospital Ship

Tons of photos and images:

By Kerry L. Bryan

Sanitary fairs were civilian-organized bazaars and expositions dedicated to raising funds on behalf of the United States Sanitary Commission (USCC) and other charitable relief organizations. Over the course of the Civil War, they became one of the most popular means of fundraising for the Union cause. For Philadelphians, who had responded to the outbreak of Civil War in April 1861 with a surge of pro-Union patriotism, sanitary fairs provided a means of supporting soldiers and their families. While young men flocked to enlist, many of those not eligible for active duty because of gender, age, or other circumstances drew upon the traditions of antebellum benevolent societies to organize various soldiers’ relief agencies and to raise funds and collect food, clothing, bandages, and other supplies to be distributed to the troops.

The USCC was founded in the summer of 1861 when observers’ reports and soldiers’ uncensored letters to friends and family disclosed that many, if not most, federal recruits were subjected to decidedly unsanitary living conditions. While the mechanisms of infection were not understood in this pre-germ theory era, it became evident that a correlation existed between outbreaks of epidemic illness in the camps and the degree of filth and poor diets. As a flood of state-organized volunteer regiments swamped the administrative capacities of the Federal army, it also became evident that the U.S. government was poorly prepared to take care of its defenders. Thus some prominent citizens banded together to form the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which channeled volunteer contributions of money and materiel to improve living conditions and medical care for Union soldiers in the field and in the growing number of military hospitals.

Soon after the founding of the USSC, a cadre of local leading male citizens headed by Horace Binney Jr. (1809-1870) formed the Philadelphia Branch of the USSC, which served as a regional executive center and depot to receive donated goods and monies. Women formed their own subsidiary, the Women’s Pennsylvania Branch of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which served as a conduit for receiving donations from hundreds of smaller, local aid societies.

Many of the local aid societies were subgroups of religious congregations and communities, such as the Ladies Aid Society of Philadelphia organized by members of the Tenth Presbyterian Church, the Hebrew Women’s Aid Society, the predominantly Quaker Penn Relief Association, and the Soldiers’ Relief Association of the Episcopal Church. Because African Americans generally were excluded from participating in USSC activities, black congregations such as St. Thomas African Episcopal Church formed their own sanitary committees, which raised funds and channeled supplies to the U.S. Colored Troops and other Union soldiers.

Whether local or national in scope, these organizations required vast, steady sources of funding to sustain their operations. In addition to soliciting donations from private citizens, merchants, and manufacturers, they staged fundraising events in Philadelphia throughout the war, including floral fairs, concerts, lectures, and plays.

By far the largest and most successful of these events in Philadelphia was the Great Central Fair held at Logan Square (now Circle) from June 7 to June 28, 1864, to raise money for the Sanitary Commission. The fair was six months in the planning. Its Executive Committee, chaired by John Welsh (1805-1886), had oversight over myriad smaller committees in charge of soliciting contributions of goods, money, and services from members of every trade, profession, and commercial enterprise in the Philadelphia area. In final form the fair had close to a hundred departments and booths offering a broad range of appeal: Arms and Trophies, Children’s Clothing, Horse Shoe Machine, Fancy Articles (homemade), Turkish Divan for Smokers, Fine Arts, Brewers, Wax Fruit, Trimmings and Lingerie, Button-Riveter, Horticulture, Art Gallery, Umbrellas and Canes, Curiosities and Relics, and Steam Glass Blower. The Great Central Fair represented a successful amalgamation of the traditional ladies’ “fancy” and “floral fairs” and the more masculine industrial exhibitions that had become popular in the nineteenth century.

The structures housing these wonders were no less spectacular than the contents. Built in just forty working days by volunteer craftsmen, the 200,000- square-foot complex featured Union Avenue, a 540-foot-long, flag-festooned central hall over which soared gothic arches. The Avenue was flanked by rotundas to the south and north and other outbuildings, all interconnected by bustling exhibit corridors. Presiding over the entire Fair site was the Stars and Stripes, unfurled on a 216-foot flagpole.

President Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by wife Mary and son Todd, visited the Great Central Fair on June 16, 1864. Even though the cost of admission was doubled for that day, attendees mobbed the Fair to see the President. Lincoln contributed forty-eight signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, which were sold for $10 each. Ultimately, the Great Central Fair raised over a million dollars for the USSC through admissions, concessions, and the sales of goods and mementos. Of the many Northern cities that hosted major sanitary fairs between 1863 and 1865, Philadelphia was second only to New York City in money raised.

But Philadelphia was second to none in terms of patriotic pride and communal synergy, as demonstrated by its successful Civil War sanitary fairs and other volunteer efforts. These phenomena may still be viewed as representing Philadelphia at its finest.

Kerry L. Bryan
holds a Master’s of Education from Chestnut Hill College and received training in historical research as a candidate for a Master of Liberal Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania. As a historical consultant, she contributed to developing the “Philadelphia 1862: A City at War” exhibit at the Heritage Center at the Union League of Philadelphia. Her research focuses on benevolent agencies in Philadelphia during the nineteenth century, including the Civil War years.