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22 November 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippines can count on the support of the United States House of Representatives when it starts undertaking the critical stage of rehabilitating areas that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

This was the assurance given to Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. by American lawmakers during a briefing on typhoon relief efforts that was called on Thursday for members of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in the House of Representatives.

The briefing was organized by US-Philippines Friendship Caucus Co-Chairs Robert Scott (Democrat, Virginia) and Darrell Issa (Republican, California) and CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (Democrat, California).

"It is extremely important that members of Congress know how critical our nation's support can be during this time of need.  The Philippines has long been a good friend of the United States and Congress must ensure that aid is effectively reaching all affected communities,” said Congressman Scott.

"While the response is being carried out in a very effective way, there is no doubt that the recovery process will be a long one," continued Congressman Scott.  "It will be important for Congress to remain engaged to ensure a speedy and effective recovery for our friends in the Philippines."

The briefing was attended by the following members of the House of Representatives: Tammy Duckworth (Democrat, Illiois); Judy Chu (Democrat, California); Mike Honda (Democrat, California); Trent Franks (Republican, Arizona); Colleen Hanabusa (Democrat, Hawaii); Al Green (Democrat, Texas); Scott Peters (Democrat, California); Henry Waxman (Democrat, California); Susan Davis (Democrat, California); JackieSpeier (Democrat, California); Charles Rangel (Democrat, New York); Sheila Jackson-Lee (Democrat, Texas); Ruben Hinojosa (Democrat, Texas); and Joe Courtney (Democrat, Connecticut).

For his part, California Congressman Honda said: "I have witnessed in my own district, across our nation, and around the world the resilient, inspiring, and enduring Filipino spirit. To my brothers and sisters in the Philippines – my heart and prayers are with you and your families as you rebuild and renew your lives.”

“I will continue to work with the Filipino and Filipino-American community, our Administration and my colleagues in Congress to make sure that relief and recovery are swift and effective and that our partnership and friendship are unwavering," he added.

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia thanked the congressmen for their support for the Philippines. He cited in particular, Rep. Ed Royce (Republican, California), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Rep. Eliot Engel (Democrat, New York), Congressman Honda and Congresswoman Speier for introducing two separate resolutions expressing sympathies for the Philippines and support for the much needed relief and rehabilitation efforts.

“I have met with a number of the members in the past days and the message from all of you has been encouraging and heartwarming. We are reassured that we can count on your support as we face this challenge of bringing back normalcy to the communities in the Central Visayas,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“This gathering today just shows us that the United States is indeed committed to stand by the Philippines as we work towards rebuilding the lives and communities that were ravaged by the typhoon,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

The briefing was also attended by Nancy E. Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance of the US Agency for International Development, who briefed congressmen on her recent visit to Tacloban.

The legislators were also briefed by US Marine Corps Col. Chris Starling on the US-led relief efforts following the typhoon that left 5,209 people dead, 23,404 injured and 1,611 missing in 575 towns and 57 cities in 44 provinces.

According to the Filipino envoy, the immediate and comprehensive support extended by the US government contributed significantly to the efforts of the Philippine Government to come to the aid of the almost 10 million Filipinos who were affected by the typhoon.

“The generosity of spirit demonstrated by your government and your people once again underscored the depth of the alliance that has been the backbone of our relations over the past 60 years,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“The impressive demonstration of the full range of the United States’ humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities has not only helped the Philippines, but has also sent a powerful message of US leadership and commitment to the region,” he said.###


22 November 2013
Haiyan Briefing. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. briefs members of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus of the House of Representatives led by Virginia Rep. Robert Scott on the relief efforts being undertaken in typhoon-affected areas in the Central Philippines. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Elmer G. Cato)