Sep 232014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2098.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2098
2009-10-02 09:06
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO9933
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2098/01 2750906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 020906Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5349
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHOVQHS/COMSEVENTHFLT IMMEDIATE
INFO RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2291
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0315
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHRO/USMISSION UN ROME IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 002098

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR USAID /OFDA REGIONAL ADVISOR A. DWYER
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA R. THAYER
USAID W/ FOR ANE/AA AND DCHA/FPP
GENEVA FOR N. KYLOH
USUN FOR OFDA REP
BRUSSELS FOR P. BROWN
ROME FOR USAID/OHA H. SPANOS
SECDEF FOR SOLIC
JOINT STAFF WASHDC FOR J3/J4/J5
PACOM FOR J3/J4/J5
NSC FOR P. MARCHAM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SOCI PREL KPAO SENV EAGR RP
SUBJECT: U.S. UPS AID AS MANILA STRUGGLES WITH TROPICAL STORM ONDOY AFTERMATH AND BRACES FOR SUPER TYPHOON

REFTELS: A) Manila 2089 B) Manila 2070 C) Manila 2056 D) Manila
2049 E) Manila 2046

¶1. (SBU) Summary. Even as Super Typhoon Pepeng (international name
Parma) threatens the country anew, Philippine officials are
struggling to cope with the over 400,000 displaced people and 293
deaths caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international name Ketsana).
Agricultural losses, while significant, do not raise a food security
risk. Philippine government agencies are working to ensure adequate
supplies of food, other staples, and credit. The USG has allocated
(through USAID)an additional $1 million in humanitarian assistance.
Additional U.S. personnel and equipment, diverted from previously
scheduled joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises to relief
efforts, are already providing on the ground. The Embassy has
restored compound power and communications, and continues to engage
local officials regarding the whereabouts of 30 American citizens
who remain unaccounted-for. Media have extensively covered U.S aid
and humanitarian efforts. End Summary.

¶2. (U) The number of known victims of tropical storm Ondoy
(international name Ketsana) now stands at 293 fatalities and over
400,000 displaced individuals housed in 526 evacuation centers as of
Friday, October 2, according to the Philippines’ National Disaster
Coordinating Council (NDCC). The Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) have deployed over 8,000 soldiers for relief efforts in the
Metro Manila area. Philippine police, fire and military personnel
are conducting clean-up operations in major disaster-affected areas,
and water and power services have been restored to most locales.

———————————
Presidential Palace as Relief Hub
———————————

¶3. (SBU) While major roadways have been cleared, many hard-hit areas
east and southeast of central Manila remained flooded. Engineers
with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority faulted three
pumping stations knocked out by the storm for the lingering water.
This flooding, along with large scale property damage in areas where
waters have receded, has prevented over 400,000 flood victims from
returning to their homes. Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD) officials are struggling to feed and shelter the
unprecedented number of evacuees, with newspapers reporting unruly
crowds jockeying for food packs at hard-hit locations in Marikina
(Metro Manila) and nearby Rizal province. In a well-publicized
response to these logistical challenges President Arroyo moved 200
evacuees from an overcrowded evacuation center she visited to the
Presidential Malacanang Palace grounds, which are already serving as
a distribution hub for relief supplies. Philippine Secretary of
National Defense Gilberto Teodoro announced that Philippine National
Police units would patrol areas where looting of abandoned homes and
automobiles had been reported.

——————-
Agricultural Damage
——————-

¶4. (SBU) While urban Manila suffered the brunt of the flooding,
tropical storm Ondoy caused 3.6 billion pesos ($75 million) of
damage to the agricultural sector in surrounding provinces,
including the loss of 180,000 tons of rice valued at 3.3 billion
pesos ($69 million), according to the Philippines’ Department of
Agriculture estimates. Fisheries ($2.7 million), high value fruits
and vegetables ($2.6 million), corn ($1.1 million) and
livestock/poultry ($0.6 million) were also affected. Paul
Fernandez, the Acting Governor of Isabela province, the Philippines’
top corn producer, told EconOff that although tropical storm Ondoy
did minimal damage to the corn crop, 60 percent of the province’s
corn remained unharvested, making it vulnerable to the three low
pressure systems now headed for Luzon. Unlike rice, the vast

MANILA 00002098 002 OF 003

majority of corn plants do not survive extreme weather events
according to Fernandez.

——————————————— ——–
Government Caps Prices, May Intervene in Food Markets
——————————————— ——–

¶5. (SBU) Philippine Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Yap announced
that public National Food Authority (NFA) and private rice stocks
exceeded two months of national consumption, allaying fears of
shortages. The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),
meanwhile, capped prices of food, cooking, and sanitary staples for
60 days. Department of Agriculture contacts tell us it will
recommend various emergency measures to the executive branch to
maintain food supplies. The NFA would procure from unaffected areas
and release existing stocks of pork, chicken, vegetables and
tilapia, and would also temporarily lift special agricultural
safeguards duties on chicken.
———————–
Banks Offer Debt Relief
———————–
¶6. (SBU) In a media interview October 1, Deputy Governor Espenilla
of the Philippine Central Bank appealed to banks to temporarily ease
the burden on affected borrowers. In response, major private and
public Philippine banks are offering to restructure loans and waive
remittance fees for flood victims. Citibank announced a 30-day
payment holiday for its credit card holders and personal loan
borrowers who were affected by the storm.
—————
U.S. Assistance
—————

¶7. (SBU) In addition to the $100,000 released to the Philippine
National Red Cross (PNRC) on September 29, USAID’s Office of Foreign
Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has allocated an additional $1 million in
emergency aid to the PNRC and other humanitarian organizations. An
OFDA humanitarian supplies flight (Aleutian-70) is scheduled to
arrive on Friday, October 2, with non-food relief items (water
containers, hygiene kits and plastic sheeting) valued at $390,000
and sufficient to assist 220,000 people. The PNRC will begin
distribution of these supplies immediately upon arrival. USAID/OFDA
regional advisors are in Manila, assessing the humanitarian
situation and assisting with coordination between the Government of
the Philippines, NGOs, UN agencies, and the U.S. military. OFDA
advisors are also actively monitoring Typhoon Parma, tropical storm
Melor and one additional tropical depression, which might affect
humanitarian conditions and the subsequent USG response.

——————————————— –
U.S. Military Aids Sick, Hungry, Clears Roads
——————————————— –

¶8. (SBU) On October 1 in Metro Manila’s Quezon City, Third Marine
Expeditionary Force (III MEF) personnel treated almost 800 injured,
transported or distributed thousands of packs of food and donated
clothing to DSWD distribution centers, and cleared roads of debris.
These activities are continuing. Additional U.S. Marine and Navy
forces diverted from Talon Vision/PHIBLEX (Philippines Bilateral
Exercise) currently en route will augment the III MEF personnel in
coming days.

¶9. (SBU) The Ambassador outlined ongoing and upcoming U.S. relief
efforts to Presidential Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in an
October 1 meeting, during which Ermita expressed deep appreciation
for U.S. assistance. He noted he had briefed the President on USG
efforts, which he said helped reinforce for Filipinos the value of
their partnership with the United States (Reftel A.)

MANILA 00002098 003 OF 003

—————————
Embassy Operations Restored
—————————

¶10. (SBU) Management staff has fully restored Embassy compound power
and communications. All Embassy offices have reopened, and potable
water will be available as soon as laboratory tests confirm its
safety.

¶11. (SBU) The Consular Section has received welfare and whereabouts
inquiries on behalf of 96 American citizens believed to be stranded
in various flood-stricken areas. Staff have located and confirmed
the well-being of 68 of these individuals, and provided information
on the remaining 28 to the relevant local authorities and continue
to follow up with them for information. American Citizen Services
(ACS) personnel continue to check casualty lists, attempting to
identify American citizens. ACS has issued a warden message
regarding the next three tropical depressions headed for the
Philippines.

————————————
Heavy Media Coverage of U.S. Efforts
————————————

¶12. (U) Most major media outlets prominently featured U.S.
assistance to the victims of tropical storm Ondoy, highlighting the
$100,000 donated and the participation of U.S. troops and rescue
equipment. Three major TV channels covered the Ambassador, USAID
and U.S. military personnel distributing U.S.-purchased Philippine
National Red Cross relief supplies at an evacuation center in Quezon
City. Photos of the Ambassador distributing food packets appeared
in the country’s eight major dailies, and the Ambassador was quoted
describing additional U.S. equipment and personnel en route to the
Philippines, as well as the diversion of resources from the joint
Philippines-U.S. military Talon Vision/PHIBLEX exercises to relief
efforts.

————————-
Super Typhoon On the Way?
————————-

¶13. (U) Packing sustained winds of 195 kilometers per hour (kph) and
gusts of over 230 kph, typhoon Pepeng (international name Parma)is
scheduled to hit Luzon Saturday evening, according to Nathaniel
Cruz, Deputy Director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and
Astronomical services Administration (Pagasa). Rains from the
storm’s outer rainbands are already falling in southern and central
Luzon.

——-
Comment
——-

¶14. (SBU) Averaging over 20 typhoons a year, the Philippines should
be well versed in disaster response. The current calamity
demonstrates the limits of its disaster prevention and relief
capabilities.

Kenney

   

 

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