Relief supplies continue to Philippines

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan sent another two C-130 military transport aircraft to the storm-ravaged Philippines yesterday morning to deliver a second batch of relief supplies, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday. The two C-130s took off from Hsinchu Air Base in northern Taiwan and flew relief goods directly to Cebu in the central Philippines, the MND said in a released statement. The planes carried 13 tons of relief goods. The military may continue the airlift mission to send food and disaster relief supplies to affected areas in the Philippines today because there is still plenty of relief supplies to be donated to the East Asian country, the MND said. Taiwan previously sent a batch of supplies via two C-130s to Cebu on Tuesday and the planes returned in the evening in the same day. Meanwhile, the military said it could dispatch military vessels to send supplies to the Philippines by sea in order to speed up the humanitarian assistance mission. The Navy is currently making preparations to launch such a mission as soon as top government officials have made the call, military spokesman Luo Shou-he told local media yesterday.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) said yesterday that there is “no limit” for Taiwan in offering humanitarian aids to the Philippines. “The foreign ministry will continue to work with the MND to airlift supplies to the country,” he said. Lin said Taiwanese government has so far received around 100 tons of supplies donated by local NGOs and citizens to aid the Philippines’ post-disaster relief efforts. These supplies include tents, blankets, food ration packs and instant noodles, Lin said.

Taipei previously donated NT$200,000 to Manila this Sunday for disaster relief. During the C-130’s previous relief mission to help victims of the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004, the R.O.C. national emblem on the military aircraft was blacked out to avoid political controversy with countries that do not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. However, during this ongoing mission to the Philippines, the national emblems on the C-130 planes were not blacked out. Asked to comment if the move could mean a diplomatic breakthrough, Lin said it was done based on “mutual consensus” between Taipei and Manila.

He downplayed political overtures, stressing that the airlift mission is a humanitarian mission.