Press Release
June 23, 2011

Despite tension over Spratlys
PH should send relief-rescue mission to flood-devastated China

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday urged Malacanang to consider sending humanitarian and rescue mission to China to help in the aftermath of the floodings that have hit its southwestern and southern provinces, killing at least 175 people so far.

Recto said the country should seize this opportunity to show to Beijing that despite the brewing tension over Spratlys Islands, the government is not reneging on its obligation to help a neighbor in distress.

"After more than a week of saber rattling with China, we should take a pause by rushing to the side of a neighbor in need, which may be regarded as powerful but still not exempt from natural devastations like us," Recto said.

The senator said the government could ask local Red Cross units to tie up with relief-rescue state agencies led by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Council (NDRRC) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to send a composite team in China.

"Aside from my proposal to engage China economically instead of militarily over the Spratlys issue, we now have an opportunity to open a new door of engagement which is humanitarian and relief effort," Recto said.

He added: "The Chinese people would appreciate this act not as a mere pa-pogi stunt but as a sincere gesture from a neighbor which has also its own share of natural calamities, like the deadly Ondoy-induced floods."

The senator said the rescue-humanitarian contingent may hardly make a dent in China's overall rescue-rehabilitation efforts but the mere presence of Filipinos trying to comfort Chinese communities should be worth a "thousand Philippine patrol boats in Spratlys waters."

Recto nevertheless stressed that the humanitarian gesture should not preclude the on-going effort of national government to help flood-affected communities in the ARMM region. China is facing its latest natural disaster this year wherein torrential rains caused floods and landslides in Yangtze River's downstream provinces and several southwestern and southern provinces.

The disasters have affected 36.57 million people and left 1.64 million displaced in 510 counties in the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the municipality of Chongqing.

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