By Francis Wakefield
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the country is willing to send more people to Indonesia to help in the rehabilitation efforts of areas hit by a powerful quake last month.
Lorenzana made the remark as the death toll in the magnitude 7.5 earthquake which hit Sulawesi, Indonesia last September 28, has already reached an estimated 2,000 people.
The quake, according to Indonesian disaster officials, also destroyed 7,000 houses.
After the 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit, water smashed into buildings and swept away homes in the coastal city of Palu, home to 350,000 people.
“We will wait for the request of the Indonesian government if they want people from us to help with the rehabilitation (efforts),” Lorenzana said in a press conference at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City on Wednesday.
Lorenzana personally led the send-off ceremony of the 25-person contingent sent to Indonesia, led by Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Deputy Administrator Nicanor Faeldon.
The team delivered via a Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” cargo aircraft aid and other relief items for Indonesia consisting of six units of water filtrations system, six units of generator sets, tents and sleeping kits.
The defense secretary said the relief items are in line with the request from the Indonesian government for the Philippines to provide humanitarian assistance for the victims of the earthquake.
“So this request has been given to us I think last week and it took us a while to prepare for the goods. We could have reacted earlier, but we also had disasters here in the Philippines lately,” Lorenzana said.
“Up to now we are still retrieving some of the bodies at the landslides,” he added, referring to the landslides in Itogon, Benguet and Naga City, Cebu.
Lorenzana said the C-130 will have two sorties with the next one on October 15.
“The C-130 will be staying there for quite some time to help in the ferrying of goods,” he said.
Meanwhile, Budi Dhewajani, the Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to the Philippines, thanked the Philippine government for the aid it has provided.
“When my government opened for international support the Philippine government quickly responded. The Philippines is assisting us in this difficult situation,” he said.