Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141021-2: Dinner with Local Government Leaders of Northern Samar

Speech by Ambassador Tweddell
Dinner with Local Government Leaders of Northern Samar
Catarman, Northern Samar 
21 October 2014

• Hon Jun Ong and Mrs Daisy Ong, Governor of Northern Samar
• Hon Francisco Rosales, Jr, Mayor of Catarman
• Hon Emil Ong, Representative, 2nd District of Northern Samar
• Dr Tami Ong
• Provincial officials, Municipal Mayors, Vice Mayors, Board Members and other Municipal officials

Good evening.

Thank you to the Provincial Government of Northern Samar and the Municipal Government of Catarman, particularly Governor Jun Ong and Catarman Councilor Butch Bonsol, for inviting me to visit your province. I am honoured to be here.

This is my first time to visit here. I am pleased to be seeing for myself that Catarman and the province of Northern Samar have a long history of partnership with the Australian Government.

We were warmly welcomed after a five-and-half-hour land travel from Tacloban last night with a dinner with Governor Ong and family. Today has been a very interesting day – I was given a tour of the Capitol Building after a hearty breakfast with Governor Ong and his family.

I was also given the honour of addressing the Sangguniang Bayan session this morning, followed by lunch hosted by Mayor Rosales. We also drove along the Australian-built Northern Samar Integrated rural Development Project (NSIRDP) road to Laoang.

Australia has worked with various non-government organisations here and supported community-based initiatives particularly on improving livelihood opportunities and promoting sustainable agriculture. Australia also supported the construction of the Catarman Bridge II, now known as the ‘Philippines-Australia Friendship Bridge’, where we unveiled an impressive plaque this morning, and am pleased to learn that this has brought significant benefits to the people of Catarman.

A number of Filipinos from Northern Samar have also studied in various universities in Australia under the Australia Awards Scholarship scheme. Through their training at Australian institutions, I hope that the alumni have become living testimonials that Australia is an excellent education destination and also continue to promote partnerships between private and public sectors aimed at bringing development to your province. I’ll be meeting up with local alumni of Australian universities tomorrow evening.

I travelled to Catarman from Leyte, where we unveiled the Australian Memorial at the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in Palo. This is a memorial to the 92 Australians who gave their lives for the liberation of the Philippines during the Second World War. Future generations will now remember the contribution made by Australians in the Liberation of the Philippines 70 years ago and will serve as a reminder that Australia and the Philippines have an enduring friendship, through good times and bad.

As the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda approaches, it is timely to reinforce that the Australian Government is committed to providing assistance to its neighbours in times of calamities.

We are also committed to continuing our assistance to the Philippine Government to ensure the effective implementation of its social protection and poverty reduction programs.

In May earlier this year, Australia supported the construction of a day-care centre and a two-classroom school building in Barangays Ipil-Ipil and Macagtas under the KALAHI-CIDDS Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). There are 900 households benefitting from these projects.

As part of Australia’s assistance to the recovery efforts of typhoon-affected communities, we will continue our support to the community-driven development program of the Philippine government. I understand DSWD is now in the process of reviewing various project proposals submitted by different communities.

My very warm thanks to the Province of Northern Samar, to Governor Ong, Vice Governor Lavin, and all the Provincial and Municipal officials present here.

Thank you also, Governor and Mrs Ong, for your warm and wonderful hospitality, and the time you’ve generously spent with me.