MANILA, Philippines – The first of two of the largest high-energy food shipments from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) arrived in the country yesterday for victims of storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng.”
Stephen Anderson, WFP country director, said the first 100-metric-ton shipment of nutritious biscuits was loaded from Turkey and flown to the Philippines on TNT’s Boeing 747-400 extended range freighter for immediate distribution to various evacuation centers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
Anderson said another 100 tons of biscuits will arrive on Oct. 24, in a continuing effort to provide food assistance to flood victims.
The shipment was another endeavor in the “Moving the World Partnership” between WFP and delivery firm TNT.
He said the biscuits were fortified with essential vitamins and minerals for supplementary feeding to children, pregnant women and the elderly in evacuation camps.
“Tens of thousands of young mothers and children are going to benefit from this nutritious food, which will be delivered to areas worst hit by flooding and distributed in cooperation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD),” Anderson said.
He said that right after the typhoons devastated parts of the country, the WFP had immediately initiated relief activities for flood victims in support of the government’s own response to the calamity.
He thanked the TNT, through country general manager Cetin Yalcin, for transporting food and relief materials to help typhoon victims in the Philippines.
Yalcin announced that TNT would continuously bring in more food aid to the Philippines in coordination with the WFP.
He noted that the latest shipment was coordinated with the WFP in a short period. “We obtained approval from our head office last Tuesday morning and in a couple of days the supplier started production, and we’re flying our B747. It was fast,” Yalcin said.
Anderson, on the other hand, said his agency owes TNT “an enormous debt of gratitude for providing the service, which will save us close to $750,000 in shipping costs.”
He also thanked the government of Australia for providing the WFP with $1.75 million in cash, part of which has been used to buy the biscuits for the Philippines.
Relief caravan postponed
Meanwhile, the DSWD, along with other government and non-government agencies, has started “pre-positioning” relief goods to areas that are likely to be hit by typhoon “Ramil.”
Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral said they decided to postpone the planned relief caravan today for the victims of typhoon Pepeng in northern and central Luzon because of the incoming typhoon.
“We felt it was better to advance the delivery of goods so we started pre-positioning yesterday,” Cabral said in a text message.
The DSWD has organized a 100-vehicle relief caravan dubbed “Sama-Samang Pagtulong Relief Caravan” that will bring relief goods to Luzon areas affected by Pepeng.
The caravan would have included a hundred truckloads of relief goods to be distributed to some 536, 500 families in Pangasinan, La Union, Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Tarlac, Abra, Baguio City and Benguet.
In a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council last Saturday, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said authorities were pre-positioning relief goods to areas likely to be hit by Ramil, such as Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos provinces, Batanes, Cagayan and Baguio City. — Helen Flores – By Rudy Santos (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)