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by | News, TOP STORIES

‘Sana lang makarating sa amin. Dahil last time, walang nakarating sa amin na tulong. Kinamkam lahat ng kapitan namin (sa barangay).

DUBAI: Still stunned by the widespread devastation wrought by super typhoon Ompong, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE urged President Duterte to expedite relief efforts and ensure that the delivery of aids is not beset with anomalies as had usually been the case, they said, in past calamities.

This, even as they joined hands in the traditional “bayanihan” (camaraderie) spirit to come to the aid of their grief-stricken relatives and compatriots back home, passing the hat at the workplace and regular group meetings to immediately raise and send money home through the Red Cross and aid foundations in the Philippines.

Other groups have also started collecting in-kind donations and were, as of press time, seeking collaboration with freight forwarders to have them shipped to the Philippines.

‘Sana makarating’

Meantime, citing widespread reports of corruption in government relief efforts during emergency incidents like super typhoons Ondoy in Sept. 2009 and Yolanda in Nov. 2013, OFWs in the UAE have expressed wariness help would actually come to their relatives, and requested the president to make certain that vested interests of some government officials do not hamper rehabilitation efforts.

Vice Consul Von Ryan Pangwi

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa ating butihing Pangulong Duterte sa maagap at agarang action para sa mga kababayan nating nasalanta ng Bagyong Ompong,” said Sheryl Palacios-Manalo, secretary general of the OFW Global Movement for Empowerment and chair of international group’s Abu Dhabi chapter.

“Sana po ay makarating ang tulong sa lahat ng mga apektado ng kalamidad, makumpuni kaagad ang mga infrastructures na nasira at matulungan ang mga taong makabangon uli lalung-lalo na doon sa mga nasira ang mga pangkabuhayan,” Manalo said. (I thank the president for his immediate response and quick action. I hope that help actually is received by all those affected by the calamity, that damaged infrastructure is immediately rebuilt; and that people, especially those who have lost their livelihood are provided with assistance to help them gain lost grounds.)

Sheryl Palacios-Manalo

The OFWGME has over 20 chapters around the world, all are accredited by Philippine missions in countries where these are present. The organization campaigned for President Duterte in the May 2016 elections to which the former Davao City mayor won by a huge landslide.

In the UAE, Duterte got 51,879 – or 83.5% – of the total 62,103 actual votes cast.

‘Set politics aside’

Other OFWs expressed the same sentiment as Manalo’s.

“Sana may maibigay silang tulong to my family. Kahit hindi na financial. Kahit yero, wood or metal na lang po na pangpagawa ng nasirang roof namin. At sana lang makarating sa amin. Dahil last time, walang nakarating sa amin na tulong. Kinamkam lahat ng kapitan namin (sa barangay),” said Kimberlie Mariz Quiocho Arconado, a baby sitter in Abu Dhabi, who hails from Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. (I hope they are able to provide help for my family. It may not necessarily be financial aid. Roofing materials will do. I also hope that my family actually receives the help. Because the last time we had a calamity, we received nothing. Our barangay captain took them all.)

Arconado said she doesn’t regularly send money home. “Minsan lang. Pero this month mapipilitan po ako dahil sa bagyo,” she said. (I only send occasionally but I’ll be compelled to do so this time due to the damage caused by the super typhoon.)

Engr. Frankie Boton

Engr. Frankie Boton of Manaoag, Pangasinan who heads a popular OFW mountain biking group, expressed hopes public officials would set politics aside.

“Sa mga local government units (LGUs), sana ay iwasan muna po ang usaping politikal kasi minsan may namimili ng tutulungan; lalo pa sa mga ganyang biktima ng mga bagyo o kalamidad eh dapat magbigay sila agad ng ayuda mapa-financial man o in-kind. Magtulungan po tayo at wag po sanang samantalahing magpa-epal sa oras ng kalamidad,” Boton said. (I asked the local government units to set aside politics in distributing relief goods or aids and not be selective. They should expedite distribution. Let’s work together and not take advantage of the situation for our personal interests.)

Cathy Mae Valencia, a nursing grad who lives in Abu Dhabi and is also from Narvacan, echoed Arconado’s appeal.

“Please support the people who are really financially in need to rebuild their homes. We need a fast and corruption-free government assistance,” she said.

Camaraderie

Meanwhile, various OFW groups across the UAE have mobilized to help aggrieved Filipinos back home, especially those in Northern Luzon, home to the Ilocanos, of which there approximately are 50,000 across the emirates.

“Kanya-kanyang organizations muna at per company. Halimbawa, may isang company 30% ang OFWs, nag-aambagan sila; pati ibang kahi sumasali rin,” said Engr. Joel Foronda, chair of the Dubai and Northern Emirates OFW umbrella group, FilCom and past president of the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers (IIEE), a FilCom member. (For now, each FilCom member organization has initiated moves. OFWs in big companies have also started passing the hat where co-workers of other nationalities also contribute.)

Engr. Elmer Casao, head of Bayanihan Council, an alliance of OFW groups in Abu Dhabi, said they too will have some activities. “We will ask for assistance from the Filipino community in the form of donations and relief goods. We will also seek help from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” Casao said. “I am sure a lot of people will extend help.”

Strongest on earth this year

Codenamed Mangkhut, officials said the super typhoon was by far the strongest weather disturbance on the planet this year, making landfall in Cagayan province at around 1:40am Saturday, Sept. 15 with gusts hitting 325 kilometers per hour (200mph).

It wreaked havoc on Guam and the neighboring Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) before heading to the Philippines where it blew roofs away, swayed trees and caused flooding and about 80 landslides, and then in Hong Kong where it shattered windows, shook skyscrapers and hit the streets with a jet-pump strength torrential rain with gale-force winds.

Death toll from Ompong’s wrath in the Philippines was at 65 as of Sept. 17 with most fatalities – 54 – being in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), where a landslide at a mining site at the mountain town in Itogon, Benguet claimed the lives of 34 people with scores missing, Philippine media reported citing regional police director, Chief Supt. Rolando Nana.

A quarter of a million people across seven regions were affected in varying degrees by Ompong, according to local government authorities.

The Philippine government estimated that total damage will cost Php3.6 billion ($664.93 million).

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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