PH seeks long-term involvement of US in Yolanda rehab

Posted at 01/19/14 5:41 PM

Residents of Barangay 31, Pampango in Tacloban City help each other Friday in clearing their street of debris left by super typhoon Yolanda. Authorities declared the worst is over in the city with the restoration of law and order and faster delivery of relief goods. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA -- The Philippines wants a long-term involvement of the United States in the rehabilitation of areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is set to visit the Philippines on Wednesday.

Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr. hopes that the visit will further convince Washington to commit to a long-term involvement.

“We are hoping that Senator Rubio will be one of the advocates for a long-term US commitment in the reconstruction of Haiyan devastated communities in the Philippines,” Cuisia said.

Rubio is set to meet with President Benigno Aquino III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

He is also expected to visit Tacloban, one of the worst hit in the Yolanda tragedy.

“A huge challenge remains and the Philippines is preparing seriously for the reconstruction of affected communities,” Cuisia said.

The Philippines earlier set an $8.2-billion reconstruction roadmap for Yolanda-stricken areas.

“The Philippines is therefore turning again to the international community, especially the US, in seeking official development assistance to support reconstruction efforts,” he said.

Cuisia himself met with Rubio last Friday, telling the American that the Philippines "welcomes the pivot to Asia policy and I hope the US Administration will continue to strengthen the implementation of this policy, with greater focus in Southeast Asia."

Rubio, for his part, said: “America must make sure that our rhetoric about increasing our presence in Asia does not come at the expense of enduring alliances and challenges in other parts of the world.”

“The fact is that the United States has long been a Pacific power and it is vital that we maintain our robust military and diplomatic presence in the region while adapting to new realities,” Rubio said.