The Covid-19 pandemic upended the lives of vulnerable people living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas of Mindanao. In line with this, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has been escalating its Bakuna buses operations in Mindanao to improve vaccine adherence and increase vaccine uptakes in the region, especially in the high-risk population.
As of date, PRC’s Bakuna Buses and Bakuna Centers with Bakuna Teams, have administered a total of 325, 066 vaccines — 76, 876 individuals fully vaccinated and 51,238 persons boosted — in the region of Mindanao.
On 12 November, PRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon, ICRC officials and ICRC Vice President Gilles Carbonnier visited General Santos City to see the “Bakuna Bus” operations. “We have been doing this [Covid-19 vaccination programs] for almost two years. Ang kaibahan lang, dati nasa station ang ating mga vaccination drive pero ngayon mayroon ng mga buses. Ginagamit ang mga ‘to para mailapit ang bakuna sa mga taong nasa malalayong lugar. Ngayon, mas pagiigtingin natin ang pagbabakuna, partikular sa mga bata,” said PRC Chairman Gordon.
ICRC Impressed with PRC’s Bakuna Buses
ICRC Vice President Carbonnier, meanwhile, expressed his admiration for PRC’s humanitarian activities, “I am very impressed by the Philippine Red Cross, the commitment of the people, the sophistication of the different activities […]. I believe that regionally, it is key for me to come here to the Philippines especially because ICRC has many humanitarian activities in Mindanao. These are important operations that we will keep having, and I think it is important for us in ICRC to come and see with our own eyes what we collectively manage to do.”
“ICRC has always been supportive of the Philippine Red Cross’ Covid-19 interventions. They donated buses, equipped with a vaccine administration area and supplies, while we provided a cadre of volunteers to perform the task. Sa PRC, hindi pwedeng balewala ang mga binibigay na oportunidad para makatulong kasi hangarin namin na maiangat ang mga tao — hindi kami nag-aabot, kami ay nag-aangat ng mga tao,” Chairman Gordon explained.
In addition to Covid-19 vaccination programs, PRC is also planning to further expand its vaccination drive against vaccine-preventable diseases (i.e., typhoid, rubella). From 2019 to 2020, PRC, through the support of ICRC, vaccinated 127, 302 children against polio and measles-rubella. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the immunization programs for these contagious diseases, placing children at higher risk of health complications.
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.
TRed Cross continues to help TY Odette-affected communities in Bohol, Cebu to get humanitarian assistance
More than eight months after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) struck the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in partnership with the American Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), provided cash and emergency shelter assistance to 4,856 families from 19 barangays in Bohol, Cebu province, and Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu today, September 6.
Six hundred seven families received Php5,000.00 cash assistance, while 4,249 families were provided CGI (corrugated galvanized iron) sheets and shelter tool kits worth Php9,600.00. The total value of humanitarian aid distributed amounted to Php43.825 million. Today’s distribution is part of the more than Php455 million humanitarian and development assistance the PRC has allocated to families affected by Typhoon Odette and other calamities that affected Mindanao and Visayas from December 2021 to September 2022.
“Katulad ng sinabi ko sa simula ng 2022, hindi natin kakalimutan ang Typhoon Odette. Kaya nandito pa rin ang Red Cross para sa mga pamilyang lubos na naapektuhan, hanggang sila ay makabawi mula sa mga epekto ng Odette. Sabi nga ng Philippine Red Cross hymn, ‘When the world no longer watches, we do what must be done,’” Gordon emphasized.
Other partners of the PRC in these activities are the German Red Cross, the Spanish Red Cross, and the European Union. PRC’s cash, emergency shelter, and livelihood assistance distribution also covers Southern Leyte, Leyte, Palawan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Siargao, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.
The leader of 14 million volunteers and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) President Francesco Rocca, acclaimed the role of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for its immediate response to the destruction wrought by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Northern Luzon on July 27, 2022.
Mr. Rocca praised PRC’s First Aid and Emergency Teams for being at the forefront of every emergency in the country. He also conveyed the unity of the IFRC team spirit and expressed solidarity to the people affected by the major quake. Mr. Rocca was very proud that PRC has been doing its utmost to serve all its local communities.
The Chairman and CEO of PRC, Richard J. Gordon thanked him and said, “PRC lives up to its mantra of ‘Volunteers + Logistics + Information Technology = A Red Cross that is Always First, Always Ready, and Always There.’ This guides us to maintain our fidelity to serve humanity. We have always championed community-level action and we shall continue our efforts in localizing humanitarian responses for all. The 102 Chapters of PRC are always prepared and ready to take necessary actions whenever disaster threatens. Rapid response is crucial when disaster strikes because every minute counts. All our volunteers are aware of this and do their best to perform to the utmost of their abilities.”
Mr. Rocca lauded the role of the Philippine Red Cross in its many endeavors to localize humanitarian response and the continuous efforts of its Chairman Richard J. Gordon to take positive action in response to crises. Under Gordon’s leadership, PRC continually shows what can be done when humanity and dignity come first, solidified by the will to assist and protect people.
Mandaluyong City — In a luncheon meeting today, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon recognized the contribution of the Australian government to PRC, particularly its COVID-19 response operations, and honored Australia’s outgoing ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Steven J. Robinson.
In his speech, Gordon acknowledged Australia for its support in the timely establishment of the PRC molecular laboratory in Port Area, Manila, the largest of its kind in the Philippines. The laboratory was set up in June 2020, three months after the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and the Philippine government declared a community quarantine in the National Capital Region.
Gordon noted that Australia was also one of the first to donate negative-pressure ambulance units to the PRC, which are designed for transporting patients with contagious diseases, such as COVID patients. Gordon also thanked the Australian embassy for donating a Hyundai HD65-based food truck, which is part of PRC’s Hot Meals on Wheels Program, one of PRC’s interventions in disaster-affected communities.
The objective of the friendship between Australia and the Philippines, according to Gordon, is “to make sure we succeed in our effort to alleviate human suffering.” “We got a friendship we will never forget,” he said.
In his response, Ambassador Robinson acknowledged the Australian Agency for International Development for making the accomplishments possible and described the camaraderie between the PRC and the Australian Embassy as “intense.”
Also present during the event were Her Excellency Monica van Daalen, ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands; Counselor Thanh Le of the Embassy of Australia; Mr. Julian Tollestrup, First Secretary at the New Zealand Embassy; Mr. Gopal Mukherjee of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Nathan Ramalingompillai of the German Red Cross; Paul Anthony Drossou of the Netherlands Red Cross; Megan Kate Lilley of the Finnish Red Cross; and PRC officials.