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Archive for June 29th, 2008

Homecoming for 2 Fil-Am sailors aboard US aircraft carrier

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:38:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines–They found themselves in mud and floodwaters, but it was a homecoming nonetheless for two Filipino-American sailors working on the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier whose assets are being used in relief operations in the flood-ravaged Western Visayas.

Both sailors are Ilonggo and were allowed a break from their duties at sea to be with their families in this province, one of the worst-hit by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen), said Lieutenant Ron Flanders, USS Reagan Public Information Officer.

Some 400 of the 5,000 US Navy men on board the aircraft carrier “have ties to the Philippines,” Flanders told reporters here.

Seaman Grace Geroche went to her mother Edna’s house in Iloilo City, whom she found “up to her neck in water,” while her brother was sleeping on the ceiling.

“It’s very hard for her, so we flew her daughter off the ship to meet with her, it’s very emotional,” Flanders said.

Another sailor, whose name Flanders could not immediately recall, went home to Iloilo to clean his house off mud.

“[He is] one of the sailors came here two days ago, and his wife had him cleaning the mud out of their house, so he had to fly ashore. He was working on the ship now he’s cleaning mud out of his wife’s home,” Flanders said.

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney toured Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano on the USS Ronald Reagan on Sunday, after the military chief delivered relief supplies here via a C-130 cargo plane.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-29T17:16:43+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 29 Jun 2008 17:16:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Food shortage looms due to ‘Frank’–Arroyo adviser

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:20:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines–A “food shortage” looms in the next one to two months after massive floods due to typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) devastated farm lands and livestock in the Western Visayas, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s adviser for the region said Sunday.

“We may face a food shortage, that is the extent of the damage from the typhoon,” Presidential Adviser on the Western Visayas Raul Bañas told reporters here after he received a delivery of relief supplies from Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano.

“In our aerial sorties, we saw firsthand how grave the damage is to crops. I think that’s one of the major problems we are facing,” he said.

Bañas said one of the affected provinces, Iloilo, is one of the top three rice-producing provinces in the country.

He said the floods destroyed 22 hectares or rice lands, equivalent to 66,000 metric tons of rice, and “almost wiped out” livestock and fisheries in the region.

In Cadiz town in Negros Occidental, Bañas said the storm destroyed half a billion pesos worth of fishing boats.

Bañas appealed for donations of potable water, saying the water systems destroyed by the storm have not been repaired.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-29T17:12:17+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 29 Jun 2008 17:12:17 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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No nuclear weapons on US aircraft carrier, says envoy

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:12:00 06/29/2008

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The USS Ronald Reagan, whose air assets have been helping in the typhoon-ravaged Western Visayas, is not carrying nuclear weapons, US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney said Sunday.

“As a matter of policy, our ships don’t deploy nuclear weapons,” Kenney told reporters here, before she toured Military Chief General Alexander Yano on the aircraft carrier, located 15 to 17 nautical miles south southwest of this city, outside Philippine territorial waters.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had ordered officials to keep the USS Ronald Reagan outside Philippine territory amid criticism that its stay in the country violated the Constitution.

Dodging the criticism, Kenney said: “What I would say is we’re very proud to be here helping. It’s part of the partnership.”

Kenney said the “plan was not for it [ship] to be in Philippine waters.” She added that with its size, the USS Ronald Reagan would need to be in deep waters, and would be used merely as launching pads for Seahawk helicopters to transport relief supplies.

US President George W. Bush dispatched the aircraft carrier to the country last week, during a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Washington D.C.

Eight Seahawks have been flying in and out of the Iloilo international airport. On Sunday, it ferried relief goods brought in by Yano and his party via a C-130 cargo plane.

“We’ve gotten about 90,000 pounds [of supplies]… When the Armed Forces of the Philippines says, here is where something needs to go, we say, right, yes sir,” the envoy said.

Massive floods in the Western Visayas, triggered by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) have caused over 500 fatalities and has left close to 300 missing.

The storm also caused a passenger ship carrying 862 passengers and crew, the M/V Princess of the Stars, to capsize off the central island province of Romblon during its onslaught last Saturday.

Kenney said relief supplies from the USAID would be flown in here on Sunday evening.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002008-06-29T17:08:09+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Sun, 29 Jun 2008 17:08:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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