Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP150728: Joint Handover of Shelters to Family-Beneficiaries in Yolanda Affected-Areas

at the Joint Handover of Shelters to
Family-Beneficiaries in Yolanda Affected-Areas
28 July 2015, 9:00 – 11:00 am
Municipal Hall, Palo, Leyte

-Palo Municipal Mayor Remedios Petilla, thank you for your calm and wise leadership which inspires both trust and confidence.
-Our excellent partners represented here by:
o Philippine Red Cross Secretary General Dr Gwen Pang
o Gawad Kalinga Executive Director Jose Luis Oquinena
o Catholic Relief Services Philippines Emergency Coordinator Joshua Kyller
o Australian Red Cross Philippines Coordinator Cathering Gearing
 The family-beneficiaries of the shelter projects
 Barangay captains and other officials of Libertad and Bagacay
 Friends from the media
 Ladies and Gentlemen

Ma-upay nga aga ha a-ton nga-ta-nan.

Thank you for the warmth of your welcome to me and my Australian Embassy colleagues.

I was here a few days after Typhoon Yolanda hit Leyte, and witnessed fist hand the devastation wrought by the most powerful storm ever to make landfall. I have been back several times, and each time I have been pleased to see the region making progresss along the long road to recovery. This is a testament to the resiliency and strength of the people of Leyte.

External shocks like natural disasters severely undermine growth, reverse hard-won development gains and increase poverty and insecurity.

As a friend, Australia will continue to be a responsive neighbor and stands ready to support the Philippines and the Filipino people, especially in times of disasters and emergencies.

Shelter is a basic humanitarian need and critical in securing the safety and restoring the dignity of those affected and helping them on their road to recovery.

I am delighted to be here with you today to participate in the handover of rehabilitated and newly built housing funded under the Australian Typhoon Yolanda response and recovery program. In implementing Australia’s shelter recovery support, we partnered with our long-standing humanitarian and development partners - the Philippine Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services and Gawad Kalinga.

I am glad to note that the three shelter recovery projects were implemented in coordination with the Municipality of Palo, City Government of Tacloban, and the host and beneficiary communities. I was also pleased to see that these projects closely aligned with local government’s efforts and meet national government’s new housing standards. This program has been very much about more than just housing, having adopted an integrated approach by providing water and sanitation facilities, and addressing livelihood and community development requirements of the affected families and host communities. All these are essential elements of the recovery assistance.

In addition to this program, Australia is also supporting the people of Leyte and Samar by:
• Constructing 190 classrooms through the Basic Education Support Transformation Program (BEST) with the Department of Education;
• Constructing 117 day care centers through the National Community Driven Development Program with the Department of Social Welfare and Development;
• Providing small grants to communities to help approximately 6,000 people restore their livelihoods through the Philippine-Australia Community Assistance Program (PACAP); and
• Building the disaster and climate resilience of 12 local government units and up to 150 barangays through the Resilience and Preparedness towards Inclusive Development Program (RAPID) with the Climate Change Commission.

I am very pleased to congratulate the beneficiaries from the Barangays of Bagacay, Libertad, San Agustin and Cogon; the officers of the Palo Municipality, Tacloban City and Leyte Province; and our humanitarian and development partners from the Philippine Red Cross, Catholic Relief Service and Gawad Kalinga for this successful partnership.

We hope that Australia has been able to contribute in our small ways to the recovery well under way in Leyte and Samar.

All the best in your succeeding work towards recovery.

Good morning again to everyone of you and thank you very much.