MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After previously canceling his trip to South Korea, President Benigno Aquino III has decided to go again as originally planned after reports on the aftermath of Typhoon Ruby appeared "encouraging."
On Tuesday, December 9, a day after Aquino decided to forego his visit to supervise efforts following the typhoon, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the trip is back on for the President.
"As Typhoon Ruby is set to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility, reports from government representatives in the frontlines have consistently been encouraging. This is, without doubt, due to the high level of preparedness achieved by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and affected local government units, and their continuing cooperation up to the present," Valte said.
"It is in light of this that President Aquino has decided to push through with the original plan to attend the 25th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit."
Valte said Aquino – who is reportedly unwell – will go in support of its "staunch partner and ally."
"This is in keeping with the Philippines’ international commitments to Korea, which has always been a staunch partner and ally, our sister nations in ASEAN, and the rest of the global community," she said.
"This trip will afford the President the opportunity to articulate the Philippine position on issues of both national and global importance, including those connected to climate risk and disaster preparedness, and the dangers posed by the Ebola virus."
Despite the change in plans, Valte gave assurances that Aquino would still be updated with the situation on the ground post-typhoon.
"Rest assured that the President has been closely monitoring the situation, and will continue to do so, even as he represents the country in Busan," Valte said.
"He has full trust and confidence in the members of the Cabinet who have been on the ground since before Ruby made landfall, as well as in the NDRRMC, local government units, and other government personnel who are engaged in the task of relief and recovery."
The summit is scheduled for Thursday, December 11, until Friday, the 12th. The typhoon is expected to leave the country on Thursday morning.
On Monday, Valte said “the President will instead send Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to represent him in the summit to enable the President to focus on actions that need to be taken in light of the aftermath of Typhoon Ruby.”
Typhoon Ruby already damaged P1.02 billion ($22.89 million)* worth of agriculture in 55,850 hectares of land in Bicol, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, where it had made landfall.
In South Korea, Aquino is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Korean President Park Geun-hye and attend the Commemorative Summit Sessions along with other ASEAN leaders. – Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44.71