By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
BALI, Indonesia — The Philippines has officially turned over its US$500,000 worth of combined financial and humanitarian assistance for the victims of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia two weeks ago.
Outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano led the symbolic turnover ceremony here. The assistance was officially received by Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang.
In his speech, Cayetano said that Indonesia has always a friend of the Philippines and President Duterte’s visit to Bali is a way of standing by a brother in need.
“We are here today not only to extend our sympathies but to express love in a humbling way. We want to be here for our Indonesian brothers and sisters,” Cayetano said.
“The Philippines would like to return ASEAN’s (Association of Southeast Asian Nations’) kindness by standing by Indonesia at this time of adversity,” he added.
Sarundajang, on the other hand, expressed gratitude to the Filipino people for extending assistance to Indonesia.
“I would like to extend our deep gratitude and appreciation to the Filipino government and Filipino people for all the sympathies, humanitarian support, and assistance,” he said.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed,” he added.
The Philippines has extended US$200,000 worth of financial assistance to Indonesia, and US$300,000 worth of humanitarian aid. This includes, a C-130 aircraft, generator sets, and water, among others.
The deadly magnitude 5.1 earthquake which hit Palu City in Central Sulawesi on September 28 claimed the lives of 2,010 people. Some 10,700 are reported to be seriously injured while 671 others are still missing.
President Duterte is in Bali to attend the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering Thursday, he will also have the opportunity to present to Indonesian President Joko Widodo the Philippines’ assistance.
The official turnover of the assistance, however, was not done in a quiet manner as it was greeted by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that rocked Bali at around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
According to Cayetano, the Filipino people is one with Indonesia in times of adversity, especially following reports of three casualties from this recent quake which also hit Papua New Guinea.
“Unfortunately, initial reports [said] may mga (there were) fatalities. God’s grace walang (there was no) Filipino [included],” he told Palace reporters here.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang ating tulong at condolences sa Indonesia (We will continue extending assistance and condolences to Indonesia),” he added.