Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ROKAF contingent in Leyte feted for 'Yolanda' rehabilitation efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 16): ROKAF contingent in Leyte feted for 'Yolanda' rehabilitation efforts

For their exemplary role in stabilizing "Yolanda"-battered Palo, Leyte last year, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Department of National Defense has expressed its appreciation to the 500 officers and enlisted personnel of the Republic of Korean Armed Forces (ROKAF) contingent in Eastern Visayas.

Awarding took place at 10 a.m. at Joint Support Group headquarters in Barangay Candahug, Leyte, AFP spokesperson Col Restituto Padilla said.

AFP chief-of-staff Gregorio Pio Catapang awarded the AFP Command Plaque and Commendation Medals to the mission commander Col. Lee Chul Won and the Korean contingent.

“The Korean disaster response contingent has been with us since Super Typhoon 'Yolanda' struck last year. They were among the first countries to respond and offer us aid. Without your help, our rebuilding efforts will not go on as smooth and as swiftly,” Catapang said.

Also present in the awarding ceremony were Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and Office of Civil Defense administrator and incumbent National Risk Reduction and Management Council chief Undersecretary Alexander Pama.

Both cited the valuable role the ROKAF played in stabilizing the situation in "Yolanda"-battered Palo, Leyte.

Gazmin and Pama along with Korean dignitaries also facilitated the ribbon cutting ceremony at Araw Park to honor the ROKAF’s more than a year of aid to "Yolanda" survivors and support to the rehabilitation of Leyte.

Prior to their departure, which is estimated to be before the end of December, Padilla said that the ROKAF contingent will turnover to the Philippines some of their equipment, which include their field kitchens.

The AFP spokesperson said that they cannot give a more detailed list of the equipment to be donated as they are still waiting for a formal inventory.

He added that the pull out will be done as the ROKAF has already achieved its rehabilitation mission.

"(The ROKAF) will be leaving the Philippines after completion of their 'Yolanda' mission which calls for rehabilitation of areas battered by the supertyphoon. They (have) constructed a lot of houses and touched the lives of a lot of families , they have been doing feeding programs, they have been doing medical missions, they have been helping rebuild communities, they have helped build some roads, and done a lot of things," Padilla said

He attributes this to the gratitude of the South Koreans to the Philippines who helped them in their time of need during the Korean War.

"The Koreans felt a great sense of obligations to pay back what our veterans have done during the Korean War," Padilla said.

The South Korean contingent arrived in Tacloban City last Dec. 28.

They were aboard two of the South Korean Navy's landing ship tanks.


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