Filipinos to become 'stronger than before'

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MANILA -- A US government official said that Filipinos will rise from the devastation caused by Supertyphoon Yolanda and become “stronger than before.”


 “Given the strength of the Philippine people and the US commitment to the bilateral relationship, I believe that Filipinos will emerge from the current difficulties even stronger than before,” Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said in his speech before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Marciel reported on Tuesday (US time) before the Senate Committee about the response of the US government to the disaster in the Visayas region.

“The typhoon, one of the largest and strongest in history, struck the central Philippines from the east, and carved a swath of destruction across the middle of the country. Hardest hit were Leyte, site of General MacArthur’s return to the Philippines in 1944, Samar, and a series of other islands,” he said.

“The typhoon’s incredible winds, plus a major storm surge, killed an estimated 4,000 people, left hundreds of thousands of others homeless, and devastated cities, towns, villages, and the region’s infrastructure,” Marciel added.

He described the US government’s response after the typhoon as “rapid, well-coordinated, and substantial.” Marciel further noted that the total worth of American assistance was around $37 million.

“The State Department also set up a Crisis Response Task Force to help monitor and report on developments, help identify any obstacles to effective relief supply, help facilitate coordination with other agencies, and deal with large numbers of phone calls from concerned Americans,” he said.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry monitored the situation in the Philippines closely and had also called up their counterparts in government to offer assistance, Marciel said.

Five Americans were among those killed by Yolanda while 475 US citizens who were in the disaster area have been located, he said.