Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP151203 - Launch of the Support Program for Disaster Response and Groundbreaking of Warehouse H

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Launch of the Support Program for Disaster Response and Groundbreaking of Warehouse H
DSWD National Resource Operations Center, Pasay City
3 December 2015

• Secretary Dinky Soliman, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
• Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
• Undersecretary Angelita Medel, DSWD
• Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz, DFA
• Assistant Secretary Rodolfo Santos, DSWD
• Assistant Secretary Vilma Cabrera, DSWD

We are proud to claim Undersecretary Seguis, Assistant Secretary Cruz and the daughter of Secretary Dinky as Australian alumni!

• Other DSWD officials and staff
• My colleagues in the Australian Embassy – Geoff King, Anne Orquiza, Ross Hardy and JP Agcaoili
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.

Thank you for inviting me here today. I am very happy to be a part of the launching of the Support Program for Disaster Response and the groundbreaking of the warehouse of the National Resource and Operations Center (NROC). The Australian Government takes great pleasure in its continued strong partnership with the Government of the Philippines.

At the height of the Typhoon Yolanda response in November 2013, I handed over to DSWD 1,500 units of multipurpose tents for families affected by the Typhoon in Leyte, Samar and Panay. With me during the handover at Mactan International Airport were then DSWD Assistant Secretary Ted Romo, Director Merceditas Jabagat of DSWD Region 7, and the then Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command Chief General Roy Deveraturda, now retired – whom we proudly claim as an alumnus of Australian military studies. That handover marked the first time the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and DSWD directly engaged in humanitarian response. Since then, our offices have been partners in enhancing the disaster response capacity of the Department.

In January 2015, the Australian Government and DSWD finalised a new partnership in preparedness to respond, which is focused on three areas, namely:

• strengthening the disaster response role of DSWD through support to policy work and capacity building;
• supporting warehousing and logistical capacity of the National Resource and Operations Center (NROC); and
• prepositioning of emergency relief supplies.

As the agency mandated to respond to disasters and emergencies, DSWD is working to further enhance its disaster response systems, mechanisms and protocols. Australia, through this Support Program for Disaster Response and the deployed Australian Civilian Corps adviser, is supporting DSWD in this process.

NROC plays a vital role in ensuring emergency relief supplies are always available and ready to augment supplies in the regions. This capacity will be further enhanced by the construction of Warehouse H, which will increase the storage capacity of NROC three-fold.

Prepositioning of emergency relief supplies has been an effective mechanism for the Embassy to provide immediate life-saving assistance to families affected by disasters and emergencies. Through our partnerships with United Nations agencies and Philippine Red Cross, emergency relief supplies are procured locally and stored in strategic areas ready to be quickly deployed and distributed in disaster-affected areas. We understand that DSWD has also been using this mechanism to provide assistance quickly to communities affected by disasters. We are proud to be the first bilateral donor to preposition emergency relief supplies directly with the Philippine government through DSWD.

We are pleased to add this disaster preparedness initiative to our long-standing and wide-reaching partnership with DSWD. A partnership that already includes:

• Support to the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, including development and strengthening of the National Household Targeting System
• Analytical support on Community Driven Development Program, and the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (or KALAHI-CIDSS) Project
• Scholarship, human resource and organisational development support through the Philippine – Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility.

I congratulate DSWD for its unrelenting efforts to make its systems and programs more effective and efficient for the welfare of the poorest, the most vulnerable, and the victims of disasters and emergencies.

Today’s event is a significant milestone in our three-year partnership with DSWD in this Support Program for Disaster Response. I am very confident that this partnership will yield positive outcomes and contribute to the efforts of the Philippine government to serve the Filipino people.

Good morning and thank you.