RP SENDING 500-MAN HUMANITARIAN TEAM TO IRAQManila, April 9, 2003 -- The Philippines will send a 500-member humanitarian task force to help in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, President Arroyo said yesterday. She also instructed her two key Middle East crisis managers to start the initial steps for the Philippines' involvement in the reconstruction. The President's instructions were issued to ambassador Roy Cimatu, head of the Middle East Preparedness Team (MEPT), and National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, who leads the Middle East Cabinet Crisis Management Committee. In a statement read during her teleconference at Malacaņang, Mrs. Arroyo said she would issue the appropriate executive order for the formation and deployment of the task force. She instructed Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople to draft the order. "I hope that this 500-man humanitarian task force will help in converting resistance to the coalition to one of cooperation, and that we will by our deeds put the humanitarian crisis on the top deck of priority (and) can help begin the reconstruction" of Iraq, she said. The Department of National Defense (DND) will be the lead agency for the task force as soon as proper coordination is made with the US defense department. She explained that the DND was chosen because the department, along "with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has experience (in sending peacekeeping missions)." Though no specific date was set for the Filipino contingent to Iraq, Mrs. Arroyo said this will likely take place after cessation of hostilities. At the same teleconference yesterday, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas told the President that Filipina nurses and construction workers would be among those most in demand among employers for the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. Sto. Tomas said this information was relayed to her yesterday by Philippine ambassador Alberto del Rosario, who called her up after conferring with American contractors for Iraq's reconstruction. "Del Rosario told me that American contractors (prefer) hiring our nurses and overseas Filipino workers for construction in the Middle East," Sto. Tomas said. Mrs. Arroyo said that there is a need for the Philippines and the rest of the world community to start the flow of assistance to Iraq as soon as possible to avert a "humanitarian crisis" as United States-led coalition forces inch closer to victory. "It's time to think of how best to help the Iraqi people recover from the ravages of war and to restore the economic and political institutions," she said.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
© Copyright, 2003
by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved
PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE