No less than the current Regional Director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for the Asia Pacific, Alexander Matheou, exclaimed that the entire federation and the Philippines is extremely fortunate to have the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and its Chairman, Richard J. Gordon to lead the organization. Matheou said this during TY Odette Recovery Operations in the islands of Siargao and Dinagat, and in Surigao Del Norte that took place last Thursday, September 15, 2022.
“You know we (the Federation) are very lucky, you are very lucky, in the Philippines, you have one of the best Red Cross Societies in the whole world, and you have one of the best Red Cross Leaders in the whole world, Chairman Richard Gordon,” said Matheou as he spoke in front of the assistance beneficiaries in the island of Siargao.
Matheou said this after witnessing firsthand how PRC Chairman molded and led the entire PH Red Cross to efficiently and effectively bring much-needed assistance to the most vulnerable communities not only those who are affected by Typhoon Odette, but also other disasters that have struck the country in the last 20 years.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other partner national societies, provided cash and emergency shelter assistance to 1,803 families in San Benito municipality, Siargao Island; Surigao City; and Basilisa municipality, Dinagat Islands amounting to Php 14 Million in these provinces alone.
This is part of the more than P425 million humanitarian assistance allocated to families devastated by Typhoon Odette last December. Each families received Php 5,000.00 pesos to help them in their livelihood. Families who received emergency shelter assistance got Php 9,600.00 worth of shelter took kits, including heavy-duty corrugated galvanized iron sheets.
Matheou’s hailing of the PRC and Chairman Gordon’s leadership is not the first from the global movement.
In his trip to Marawi City last June of 2019, Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of Red Cross hailed Chairman Gordon for upholding humanitarian principles. Maurer extolled Red Gordon to promote the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s works and considers Gordon as a “reputational pride” in the international movement.
Also last June 2019, during his visit to the Philippines, the President of the IFRC, Francesco Rocca expressed his gratitude to the PRC Chairman and the PRC volunteers. Rocca highlighted PRC’s dedicated work and how it continues to inspire across borders.
Rocca also hailed the PRC last August of this year, during the Northern Luzon Earthquake, where PRC staff and volunteers immediately responded to areas affected by the magnitude this year.
“Leadership is action, not a position. I have instilled this in the thousands of staff and volunteers across our country. The PRC will always be there for the most vulnerable in our society, before, during, and even months and years after a disaster, we will continue to be there. Our mantra is ethos, Volunteers + Logistics + Information Technology equals to a Philippine Red Cross that is Always First, Always Ready, and Always There”, said PRC Chairman Gordon.
“Red Cross is involved in practically everything, from responding to fire incidents with its fire trucks to medical emergencies with its ambulances. The latest involvement of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is a flagship program of the International Committee of the Red Cross – prisons,” thus declared PRC and CEO, Sen. Richard Gordon in his opening message to this year’s biggest gathering of detention health experts and representatives from justice and health ministries in the Asia Pacific Region.
The 3rd Asia Pacific Prison Health Conference was held November 13-15 at the New World Hotel in Makati City. Aiming to build a network for prison health professionals, the conference is expected to provide a forum for sharing best practices and for finding solutions to various challenges faced by countries on the issue of prison health.
Most countries face the reality of not being able to put community health into prison health and Chairman Gordon proposed to start solving the problem by engaging concerned agencies in the equation, “We can start by saying, let’s have a regular meeting and an overview of what is happening in our prisons so that we can do the necessary things, we can monitor everything there. The other thing we can do is to digitalize the records of our prison system.”
The 3-day international conference did not only provide an avenue for discussions regarding prison health but also showcased products and artworks crafted by persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
Chairman Gordon also said that he will involve other senators and congressmen to come up with measures that will put public health and prison health on the same level.
Stressing the urgency of the matter, he further urged the delegates, “We must realize that we cannot do it overnight but we have to have deadlines. We have to monitor our progress regularly. This is the best way to ensure we meet our goals.”
Armed with service kits and vaccines, volunteers of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) braved the heat of the sun and conducted door-to-door vaccination for children ages 0 to 5. PRC, through its chapters from NCR (Manila, Pasay, Quezon City, Marikina, Caloocan, Navotas, Valenzuela, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Las Piñas) and Mindanao (Davao City, Davao del Sur and Lanao del Sur) joined the Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio campaign of the Department of Health (DOH) which kicked off on October 14.
Each vaccination team deployed to the barangays is composed of four (4) volunteers – a team leader, a health educator, a recorder, and a vaccinator. The team leader secures the list of the children to be vaccinated and leads the team to the households. The health educator explains the need for vaccination and gives advice on good health and hygiene practices – as a dirty environment encourages the spread of polio. The recorder gets the details of the child and the family, and also secures the consent for the vaccination. The vaccinator administers the vaccine.
This strategy not only ensures that vulnerable children are vaccinated and properly recorded but also provides an avenue to explain the vaccines to parents and guardians. The DOH recorded a 95% decline in polio vaccination among children below 5 years old last year.
“It is through the power of [our] pool of volunteers that the Red Cross can help our partners in fighting polio in the ‘Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio,’” said Sen. Richard J. Gordon, the Chairman and CEO of PRC.
PRC, through the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red cross (ICRC), has been conducting various health campaigns in the light of recent emergencies like the measles and dengue outbreaks.
Here is the partial tally of vaccinated children thru PRC, as of October 15, 3 PM:
* Manila – 377
* Pasay – 1,523
* Quezon City – 906
* Navotas – 220
* Las Piñas – 599
* Valenzuela – 315
* Taguig – 769
* Muntinlupa – 594
* San Juan – 178
* Malabon – 304
* Davao City – 1,458
* Davao del Sur – 38
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) reaffirmed its commitment to boost the recovery efforts for people displaced by the 2017 conflict in Marawi by providing access to income-generating activities.
In a field visit last June 3, PRC Chairman Richard Gordon announced that the organization will provide sewing machines to over a hundred affected households as an effort to restore livelihood sources.
“The Red Cross is not just about deploying medical tents and providing relief. We are not a handout society. The Red Cross is an organization that enables. This is why it is important that we help people restore their livelihood sources,” Gordon said.
This statement was echoed by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer, who is in the country for an official mission, noting that the organization will also continue to address humanitarian concerns of people affected by conflicts.
“Just like Chairman Gordon, I believe in the importance of empowering people and helping people help themselves. This is a philosophy that we both strongly adhere to. We will continue to do so until the parents can go back to work and the children can go back to school,” Maurer said.
Since day one of the Marawi siege, PRC has been closely working with ICRC to assist the affected communities from relief to recovery.
The joint early recovery operations provided livelihood and shelter repair assistance for a total of 6,014 families from the most affected areas, including over 2,000 returnees who used the P10,000-cash grant to start small businesses.
In Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur, the PRC conducted hygiene-promotion activities and mobilized a network of volunteers to support the ICRC’s improvement of a water and sanitation facility that would benefit between 6,000 to 11,000 residents and displaced people.
PRC and ICRC will continue recovery efforts until the people get back on their feet.