MANILA – South Korea, although its hands are full in containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), has provided over USD5 million (PHP250 million) worth of humanitarian assistance to the Philippines to help contain the deadly disease.
In a recent interview, Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man said the humanitarian aid is in the form of Covid-19 testing kits, high-quality masks, tons of rice, 1,000 face shields, diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), and protective face masks for Filipino veterans of the Korean War and their families, among others.
Han said that South Korea will never forget the benevolence of the Philippines in helping his country defend freedom and democracy during the Korean War.
As a gesture of magnanimity, he said South Korea has been extending assistance to the Philippines the past seven decades during disasters, man-made or otherwise.
“The Philippines is Korea’s long-standing ally. Over the past 70 years since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Koreans have never forgotten the 7,420 Filipino soldiers who were dispatched as the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea as part of the UN Forces to fight for the freedom of Korea during the Korean War,” Han said.
Among the humanitarian aid is the USD1.5 million from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) development program to support the Philippine government to combat Covid-19. This includes testing kits worth USD500,000 that can yield 35,000 tests, he said.
At the same time, KOICA also shaped its post-Covid19 program, which focuses on building the resilience of the vulnerable groups in urban and rural areas, strengthening the health system, and stimulating digital partnerships to support the new normal.
The mid- and long-term programs highlight the importance of building a solid foundation in line with the Philippine government’s “Economic Recovery Plan” which will accelerate the return to the strong growth momentum.
Through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) implemented by Korea EXIM Bank, Han said the Korean government will also provide the Philippines with immediate budget support up to USD50 million to help the country detect and respond to public health challenges caused by the pandemic.
The EDCF Covid-19 program loan will support the establishment of national policy in connection with the national emergency arising from Covid-19; to streamline procurement rules and enable procuring entities to efficiently undertake procurement during a state of public health emergency; to prepare policy guidelines on the provision of funds by local government units for programs, projects, and activities to address Covid-19; and to adopt a national contingency plan for Covid-19 to scale-up country readiness and response operation.
“The current global pandemic Covid-19 cannot prevent such efforts of the Korean government and its people to express deep appreciation to the Filipino people,” Han said.
At the same time, Han said a total of USD5 million from the Korea-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Cooperation Fund, will be provided to the 10 Asean countries in the form of diagnostic kits (17,664 Covid-19 tests, extraction equipment), and 300 PPE sets for each country.
Asean members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (PNA)