The Australian Defense Force (ADF) will distribute relief goods to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Bantayan Island and Camotes Island, Cebu beginning today (Tuesday) under “Operation Philippines Assist.”
The Government of Australia, through ADF, deployed HMAS Tobruk, an amphibious ship, to assist in relief and recovery operations in areas severely affected by the typhoon, including Northern Cebu.
The vessel arrived in the Cebu port on Monday carrying 110 tons of disaster relief goods and shelter kits from the United Nations Humanitarian Center for Relief. Aside from foreign donations, there were also relief goods from local civil society groups.
In a press conference at the Cebu port's Berth 6, HMAS Tobruk Commanding Officer Leif Maxfield said that it would take three to four days to distribute the goods because they have to stop at every islet and island in Bantayan and Camotes.
“Australia and the Philippines are friends, and in crisis situation like this, the Government of Australia will always help,” Maxfield said.
He said they coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the relief mission and for the initial recovery operations for the typhoon survivors in Ormoc City.
The AFP is tasked with the transport of humanitarian aid in typhoon affected areas in the Visayas using its C-130 aircraft and sea vessels of the Philippine Navy.
HMAS Tobruk, with 167 officers and crew on board, arrived last November 26 and has been operating in Ormoc City. It has heavy-lift capabilities and supports helicopter and landing craft operations.
It has an MRH 90 helicopter that can transport personnel and cargo.
Meanwhile, Kerwin Macopia of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Central Visayas said Secretary Dinky Soliman has not ordered the closure of repacking centers in Cebu, contrary to an announcement on the government agency’s website.
Macopia said that was closed two weeks ago was the repacking center at the parking lot of the DSWD-Central Visayas office to decongest the area.
Macopia said that at present, DSWD-Central Visayas has four repacking centers: AVRC in Barangay Labangon; the Reception Children's Center at Gen. Maxilom Avenue; Cebu International Convention Center; and the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base gym.