LEGAZPI CITY – The provincial government of Albay received on Thursday 300 metric tons (MT) of milled rice from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries under the Tier 3 Program of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) for Mayon-affected families.
In a turnover ceremony held at the Albay Farmers Bounty Village in Camalig town and graced by Japan Minister for Economic Affairs Nihei Daisuke, Albay Governor Edcel Greco Lagman thanked APTERR and the government of Japan for the donation.
"I express my heartfelt gratitude to Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for their benevolent contribution. I want to thank the Department of Agriculture (DA), National Food Authority (NFA) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for always giving their all-out support and lastly, I want to commend the Provincial Government of Albay for their innovative and community-driven approach. Let us remember that our strength lies in our unity, and together, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way," Lagman said.
He said the turnover shows how nations can come together and extend a helping hand across borders and boundaries.
"As we reflect on the significance of this event, may it inspire us to build bridges, forge partnerships, and extend our hands in friendship to those who stand beside us," he said.
In his speech, Daisuke said the 300 metric tons of rice which are equivalent to a total of 10,000 sacks, is Japan's commitment to fostering regional cooperation and reaching out to more needy people.
"Today, we are assisting the families affected by the eruption of Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay. I sincerely hope that these sacks of rice from Japan will benefit as many people as possible and serve as a source of revitalization. Also contributing to addressing the prioritized agenda of President Marcos's administration for overcoming the agricultural challenges," Daisuke said.
He said Japan is ready to help the people of the Philippines.
"Makakaasa kayo ng walang patid na suporta mula sa gobyerno ng Hapon. Lagi kaming nandito kapag kailangan ninyo (You can expect unwavering support from the government of Japan. We are always here when you need us)," Daisuke said in fluent Filipino language, eliciting applause from the audience.
For his part, DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said the event was an exchange of hope and support from partners in the ASEAN region.
"This contribution is a testament to the unbreakable bond that binds us as a global community. In times of hardship and adversity, it is through acts of kindness and compassion that we find strength and unity," Panganiban said.
He thanked the government of Japan for being consistently responsive to the needs of the Filipino people.
"On behalf of the Philippine government, the DA and NFA would like to wholeheartedly accept the donation of the 300 metric tons or 10,000 bags of rice course through the APTERR," he added.
Meanwhile, Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo of Camalig, one of the towns in Albay affected by the unrest of Mayon Volcano, said despite the difficult time they are facing, they are fortunate to receive acts of kindness and support from around the world.
"Since I was a child, I have known Japan as a country of compassion, humility, and generosity. Now you have demonstrated once again your commitment to help the needy. When this is all over, please know that we will remember you as one of those who made a difference and took an extra step to offer help," Baldo said.
The 10,000 sacks of milled rice will be distributed to the 5,787 families displaced by Mayon’s ongoing effusive eruption. (PNA)