More than HK$2 million worth of aid, financed by Hong Kong’s Disaster Relief Fund, is being distributed in Philippine towns hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
Relief packs featuring essential food stuffs, survival items and sanitary supplies are being handed out to about 5,000 families in the remote central Philippine towns of Ajuy, Batad and San Dionisio in Iloilo province.
Representatives from the Amity Foundation’s Hong Kong office arrived in Iloilo shortly before the Lunar New Year to oversee the efforts.
“Our people suffered [from Typhoon Haiyan] too – these people are our brothers and sisters,” said Tong Su, the foundation’s project co-ordinator. “We want to be the messengers of goodwill from the people of Hong Kong and China.”
The relief packs were prepared in the Philippines by Amity’s partner, Kaisa para sa Kaunlaran (United for Progress).
Each pack contains 25kg of rice, as well as milk, food containers and cutlery. Each pack also contains a bucket, blanket, mosquito net, candles and slippers in addition to toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and detergent.
Teresita Ang-See, Kaisa’s founding president, said that aid from Hong Kong had also provided 200 water filters.
Amity officers were ensuring that all aid money was being spent appropriately, she added.
In December, the Amity Foundation delivered aid financed by private donations to Filipino victims of the typhoon.
Hong Kong’s Disaster Relief Fund was set up to provide aid to disaster victims outside Hong Kong, and this is not the first time the Amity Foundation has drawn on it to help people in the Philippines.
In 2009, Amity obtained HK$520,000 from the fund to help the Filipino victims of Typhoon Ondoy, Ms Tong said.
This time around the fund set aside more cash – HK$2.075 million – to reflect the greater scale of the disaster. The figure also reflected the strong links between Hong Kong and the Philippines, brought about in part by the large number of Filipino workers in the SAR.
However, the decision has caused some controversy.
Some Hong Kong lawmakers feared the money could be diverted to politicians’ pockets, while some others said aid should be withheld until the Philippine government resolved the 2010 Manila tour bus hostage crisis, which killed eight Hongkongers, to the victims’ satisfaction.
Asked about this, Ms Tong said: “I cannot represent all of Hong Kong’s people. But from the people I know, their attitude is very clear. We have to separate these two things.”