Aquino: Improve ASEAN disaster coordination
MANILA, Philippines – As the Philippines continues work on rehabilitating areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) over 6 months ago, President Benigno Aquino III urged fellow member leaders of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) to improve the region's coordination in responding to disasters.
During his visit to Myanmar for the 24th ASEAN Summit Plenary over the weekend, Aquino cited Yolanda and the Philippines' vulnerability to natural calamities to emphasize the need for ASEAN to implement its Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, as well as to strengthen the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center).
The agreement provides a framework for the development of operational procedures to respond collectively and expeditiously to disasters.
Aquino also urged leaders to support the High Level Task Force and the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group, responsible for analyzing and recommending amendments to ASEAN's disaster response program.
"We specifically propose that ASEAN maximize its standby arrangements for joint disaster relief and emergency response operations and protocols among our individual disaster management agencies,” he said on Sunday, May 11.
He also encouraged countries to fulfill their commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to "ensure that no other nation need suffer through another Typhoon Haiyan."
The President however did not forget to extend his gratitude to the ASEAN leaders and their people for their "overwhelming and inspiring" response in "that time of dire need."
"We may yet be some time away from the realization of the ASEAN Community, but allow me to say that, in the aftermath of the typhoon, the Philippines saw the full solidarity of our ASEAN neighbors, as well as our other friends and partners in the international community, who reached out to those affected," he said.
Aquino also thanked ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh for personally leading the delivery of ASEAN relief goods to Tacloban, and the AHA Center for its "timely assistance."
Yolanda, known as one of the world's strongest typhoons, ripped through Central Philippines on November 8, killing more than 6,000 people and affecting 16 million. - Rappler.com