By Roy Mabasa
Tacloban City, considered as the Ground Zero of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013, is currently playing host to the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific region – the Pacific Partnership 2019.
At the opening ceremony of Pacific Partnership 2019 on Monday, the United States joined allied and partner nation forces to launch the mission that includes more than 800 combined military and civilian personnel from the U.S., the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
In her welcome remarks, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez said, “This year’s mission is focused on emergency and disaster preparedness, improving capacity of the local government, enhancing regional partnerships, and increasing multilateral operations.”
Department of National Defense Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad and U.S. Embassy in Manila Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) John Law joined Romualdez in the ceremony.
This mission improves disaster response preparedness, resiliency, and capacity while enhancing partnerships between participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
“Resilience is learning from the past and making learned and informed decisions as we move forward. And today we welcome Pacific Partnership, our partner in disaster preparedness,” Romualdez said as she reflects on Tacloban’s recovery from Typhoon Haiyan.
DCM Law, for his part, said: “The work that you are doing here today and over the next two weeks is extraordinarily important because you will help make people’s lives better, and we thank you for that.”
U.S. Navy Capt. Randy Van Rossum, Commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, and his staff aboard expeditionary fast transport ships USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) and USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4) led this year’s mission.