Long after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) has struck the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the German Red Cross, and the American Red Cross, continues in aiding severely affected communities in Visayas and Mindanao.
On 19 September 2022, the PRC, under the leadership of Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon, distributed emergency shelter assistance to 100 families and multi-purpose cash grants to 223 families in Padre Burgos, Southern Leyte. The emergency shelter assistance, worth P9,600.00 per family, consisted of CGI (corrugated galvanized iron) sheets and shelter tool kits, while the cash assistance was P5,000.00 per family. The total amount of humanitarian aid distributed was P2,075,000.00.
“These cash grants and shelter tool kits are beneficial to their recovery. It will jumpstart the livelihoods of the affected families in Southern Leyte. It can ensure their recovery and help them start anew,” Gordon said.
This week’s recovery operations in Padre Burgos is part of a series of humanitarian aid distribution from December 2021 to September 2022 worth over P425 million, covering Southern Leyte, Leyte, Palawan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Lapu-Lapu City, Bohol, Dinagat Islands, Siargao, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.
Long after disasters are gone, the Philippine Red Cross continues to be there for the stricken communities.
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.
In an interview with ABC Australia on Tropical Storm Agaton (international name: Megi) last April 13, 2022, via Skype, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO, Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon emphasized the need for a long-term plan to make sure people have the option to live in safe areas and not in dangerous ones, such as at the foot of mountains or near oceans. “There has to be a long-term plan, a big sit-down to ensure every province can make some alternatives for the people,” Chairman Gordon said.
This is the policy change Gordon wishes to see after the elections, he said when asked whether the campaign season has affected the Philippines’ assistance to areas hit by Agaton. He explained that the country will alleviate human suffering by making sure it prevents it by predicting the areas that are prone to disasters and adopting appropriate policies.
The Chairman has been an advocate of a national policy to move people living in dangerous areas to safer places. PRC built homes in a safer place for the survivors of the 2006 landslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard town in Southern Leyte, which killed around 2,000 people. PRC also built or repaired homes for survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), which caused ocean surges as high as six meters and devastated the Eastern Visayas region in 2013. Overall, the PRC has built or repaired 80,000 homes for survivors of calamities in Eastern Visayas.
Chairman Gordon swore that the Red Cross will be helping populations affected by TS Agaton in the long run, as it usually does for survivors of calamities. “The Red Cross will be here for the long haul, as usual,” Chairman Gordon said. He mentioned that the PRC is still assisting survivors of Super Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), which made landfall on Christmas eve of 2021.
Gordon mentioned some preparedness measures that can be adopted, such as having whistles to call for help during calamities, identifying high-risk areas and moving people, and training people especially for landslides. He highlighted the importance of having pre-positioned people and logistics in the regions, such as sirens, flares, pickax, shovel, payloader, torch and other lighting devices that can be used even at night.
“Kahit ilang buwan na ang nakalipas mula nang humagupit ang Super Typhoon Odette, hindi pa rin titigil and Philippine Red Cross sa pagpapadala ng tulong sa ating mga kababayan,” Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Senator Dick Gordon said.
Since starting its response to Typhoon Odette in Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has now distributed more than one million liters of water to affected residents of Lapu-Lapu City and the municipality of Cordova. Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova were among those hardest hit by Super Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), which made landfall in the Philippines on December 16, 2021. Super Typhoon Odette affected 353 cities and municipalities, destroying or damaging more than one million houses in the Philippines.
PRC continues its assistance to Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova. As of March 31, 2022, it has conducted hygiene promotion activities among 65,966 individuals. It has also served hot meals to 3,166 persons and given jerry cans, mosquito nets, and tarpaulin to 451 families, among other forms of assistance.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan, on the city’s Public Information Office Facebook page, said the city’s doors are now open to welcome everyone, both local and foreign tourists, as long as they are vaccinated.