tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 19, 2013 10:59am-11:30am EST
between the philippine government, international governmental responses and the ngo responses? and how that is coming together? >> it's important to emphasize the government of the philippines is in the lead. we have worked with them for sort of a good news/bad news story. we have a great relationship with them responding to disasters. bad news is we are there five or six times a year. because of that we have a long-standing relationship with the philippine authorities and we work closely and well together. they are in the lead. they have been providing invaluable information on priorities and needs. the u.n. activated what it calls the cluster system which is the globally-recognized system for coordinating response across the united nations, ngos and humanitarian actors. that is co-led with the government of the philippines. they are directly integrated into that. we are working very closely with that.
and within the u.s. government doing nightly interagency calls and a variety of other mechanisms to make sure that we have our own house in order. it's been going fairly well so far as more and more ngos come in it will become a greater challenge. >> does the government of the philippines coordinate the capacities of the ngos and the need, the capacities of participating international partners as well as their own cash requirements? is that balanced together? >> yeah. their involvement in those cluster coordination meetings so you have a meeting on health every day, water every day. government of philippines is involved in those and able to hear what ngos capacities are available, what their plans are, provide feedback on that and feedback on priorities in addition to its own activities. >> there are 4 million americans
plus with filipino heritage. there is strong compassion among the american people to be engaged. people want to help. i think that's true internationally, but particularly true here in america. is there any advice you can give americans who may want to participate in the relief effort as to how they can best interact to the coordinated efforts? >> absolutely. our general advice has always, the best way to support in the early response is to give cash. it is the most efficient way to give cash to a reputable organization they trust is best way to get assistance in. it often costs more to ship from the u.s. than value of the assistance itself. it's more efficient and quicker to provide cash assistance to groups like we met yesterday at the round table meeting.
for more information there is cidi.org, center for international organization. they have a lot of information there on how to give effectively in this kind of situation. >> if i could add, mr. chairman, both usaid and state have been in touch with major philippine/american associations, briefing them on what we are doing and talking about ways they can help. there will be a lot of work to do, recovery, reconstruction. it's still early days, but talking to philippine american associations, u.s. foundations, u.s. businesses about how going further down the road they can contribute. this is going to be a long-term effort with a lot of coordination. >> thank you. if americans want to check on
the status of relatives and friends, how do they do that if they cannot make direct connections? >> mr. chairman, the embassy and usaid have been focused on american citizens. as a priority for us. so we have a system set up through our own task force where people who have been able to call in or e-mail in, talk to people and working with our embassy, we've been able to track down about almost 475 americans in response. for people looking to try to track down nonamerican citizens, filipino nationals, it's a little bit harder just given the numbers. we encouraged them to talk to contact philippine authorities, the red cross in the philippines can also help. philippine red cross has a website for families that families can reach out to
directly. or friends to try to help locate filipino citizens. >> we know this is going to be a long term project dealing with the immediate individuals still in harm's way and looking at how the united states properly can assist in dealing with the long-term needs. we appreciate you keeping this committee informed as to the status and how you see the needs and the role that the united states should consider playing. senator rubio? >> thank you. i heard from a lot of people in florida who are desperate to hear from loved ones as well as provide a helping hand during the relief and recovery operations. for example, a resident of jacksonville last spoke to her parents five minutes before they were evacuating and she hasn't heard since. she hasn't slept for five days. what advice do we have for people in this circumstance trying to reach loved ones in the philippines?
i imagine it's still logistically difficult. do we have any advice would you say i should be giving people in regard to that? >> senator, i wish there was an easy answer. if they are philippine citizens missing or who haven't been heard from in the philippines, going to the philippine red cross website where you can make inquiries, as well as contacting philippine authorities who are in a long effort to try to make sure everybody is found, germ why i could speak to the communications because i think one of the problems is cell phone connections were lost. that will be key to getting that going again. >> absolutely. thank you, senator. the communications infrastructure, especially in the coastal areas was ravaged by the storm. it is slowly returning and there is 3g coverage.
it's spotty, but it's there. we are seeing that slowly restored. i know the philippines embassy here has set up some mechanisms for citizens to check up on their relatives in the philippines and can be a hub for information on that. they can be directed there, as well. >> we heard from several organizations, the filipino american association of southwest florida and cape coral, council for filipino american organizations, they are looking for ways to help in the relief and recovery efforts. what advice do we give them streamlining their efforts to make sure it reaches the intended beneficiaries as quickly and aif is si as possible? efficiently as possible? >> if they are filipino american groups, i imagine they have very good connections with communities there in the philippines. that's often one of the best protections. you want to make sure any group you're supporting actually has a footprint that is relevant to the nature of the crisis. i would imagine that many
filipino american organizations will have links to community groups in the philippines that would have that kind of a footprint. i would underscore it's always best in this kind of a situation to support them with cash. not only is that more efficient, but also helps support the recovery of local markets. if we bring in, groups bring in a lot of in kind supplies, those supplies are not being bought in the philippines and not ending up in the philippines economy. those would be a couple. there's a lot more on the website. >> i think you answered this before, but what is the federal agency in our government that has the lead and convening power in terms of our relief efforts. >> that's my office. we have under the foreign assistance act authority delegated to the president which is delegated to usaid as the lead federal coordinator on international disaster response. we have been coordinating, we work with the military to evaluate requests and work with them to help steer their effort
towards where it is the most value and working closely with the state department and other interagency on that coordination. >> one of the things we've seen in the past from humanitarian crisis in places like the earthquake in haiti, children displaced become potential victims of trafficking and things of this nature. is that part of our response efforts? some estimates are 2 million children have been affected. what are the steps we are thinking about or who is thinking about things we can do to reduce the risk of abuse in trafficking and things like that? we've seen that in the past. >> absolutely that is a serious concern. i know that that talks more to the trafficking in particular. on the usaid side we sent a protection advisor to look into actually this set of issues. we have been in all our
partnerships ensuring that we do a technical review of those that takes those issues into account and make sure nothing any of our partners are doing could be supporting or enabling that and going forward we are going to look into more specific program options to ensure that is addressed. >> my last question is more on the geo political realm, but critical long term as we go to the american people and justify our ability. if you look at this as a multifaceted response, it has a military component in terms of being able to deliver aid and so forth and calls attention to why our military serves a purpose well beyond conducting warfare. the principle objective is to provide for national security but has logistical capabilities unrivalled and unwatched anywhere in the world. in contrast is the chinese response to this has been so limited, at best.
there's all kinds of speculation as to why. what has been the perception of that. has that been noticed the chinese are not there? they do have an aid ship, i think it's called the peace arc. a hospital ship they have not deployed. what is the perception as to why the chinese have not jumped out and and participated more robustly in response to a crisis in their region? >> senator, that is a good question. i would say i absolutely agree with you that we responded fully to this crisis for humanitarian reasons. but i think it has shown reenforced in the minds of the filipino people that we're a long time and good partner that they can depend on. i think more broadly throughout the region has highlighted what we've been saying throughout the region that the u.s. military,
as you said, in addition to being an unmatched fighting force, also brings unmatched logistical capabilities. which they use, unfortunately have to use quite often in the region for disaster response. i think that's gone widely noticed. i wouldn't want to speculate on why the chinese have responded the way they have. i do know at some point philippine authorities suggested there was no need for further medical equipment and support, whether that played a role on the hospital ship not coming, i'm not sure. i think the more important point from our perspective is by doing the right thing, we've seen seen in the region as doing the right thing. >> well, just my editorial comment to close, and i don't expect you to respond to it, but we have this debate going on in this country how engaged the u.s. needs to be around the world diplomatically in aid
programs, and of course militarily with our presence. this is an example what would happen if the u.s. did retreat from the global stage. there is no substitute from the united states as the people of the philippines would probably agree seeing the response we are giving. as far as the chinese are concerned, all this talk about containing china, that is not our goal. we would love to see the peaceful rise of china. we would like to see them assume what leadership nations do around the globe. this is an example of chinese foreign policy. it's a one-way street. if you can go into these countries and do everything they want you to do, they respond with cash systems. they have territorial disputes with the philippines which the philippines are right on and the chinese are wrong on. you see the result when you have a humanitarian crisis, the chinese are less than willing to respond. compare that to the united states which consistently has been willing to put aside whatever political differences we may have when a humanitarian
crisis strikes. we saw it in pakistan, haiti, here and other places, including japan, of course a very close ally. this is a graphic example of imagine a world without an engaged united states. this response effort would not be at the stage it's at right now. it's obviously the right thing to do, but calls attention to how important we remain engaged not just in this region but around the world. thank you both for your service. >> senator rubio, thank you for your comments. senator flake. >> with regard to chinese involvement, there are also issues they have disputes with philippines in the south china sea. how much has that played, do you think, in their inability or unwillingness to help out? >> senator, it's a good question. the disputes between china and the philippines over maritime
boundaries in particular is well known. i don't want to try to speak for the chinese government because i don't know how much that affected their response. certainly the disputes have been getting a lot of attention and something we pay a lot of attention to, as well. >> we heard mostly about the efforts in taclaban. can you talk about efforts in some of the other provinces, islands, what is the u.s. doing? >> absolutely. the storm first made halandfalln the far east. continued along through the central philippines onward across the northern tip of the island sabu. it had weakened at that time. the worst damage is in that
north and central. after that it's bad, but it was not, we didn't see the ferocious storm surge. the u.s. military working in partnership with usaid has been delivering aid shipments all over that, all over those coastal areas. there is a great map. i don't have it with me, but we can make sure you get it, that the marine units did showing where they did all those air drops, sorry, all those deliveries, excuse me. there are dots all over that coast. all over the coastal areas. now we are starting to look into the inland areas which suffered wind and rain damage but not the storm surge. >> the world bank made loans available or will make loans available for better buildings,
more storm resistant infrastructure there. is the philippine government able to take advantage of this? >> in the face of a storm surge like we saw there, there is only so much you can do. we saw that here with hurricane sandy a few years ago. that is ferocious force. with that said, the building, improved buildings and whole range of natural disaster risk reduction activities, have been you say partnership with the government of the philippines and world bank for some time, i imagine that will be a focus going forward. i would expect any tool that is appropriate to that context will be used. >> if i could add quickly, i
think per jeremy's point, the philippine government did a lot to prepare for this storm because they had a little warning. i think they evacuated almost 800,000 people, in the sense of bringing them to shelters. again, not anticipating, none of us anticipated the storm surge which caused a lot of the damage and probably a lot of the deaths. and since the storm, has done a good job facilitating not only ours but international assistance. i think they deserve a lot of credit for that. >> first responsibility the u.s. government to make sure u.s. citizens living there are taken care of. i want to commend the u.s. government response in that regard. i have family members who are there serving mormon missions and there was a situation in tacloban with missionaries who were brought to safety in manila by a c-130 flying out of
tacloban. they endured a lot. gratefully, all were saved. the u.s. government helped a great deal in that regard. were you aware of that? >> i wasn't aware of that particular case. i am aware the u.s. military did transport a number of american citizens, i think 123, if i remember correctly. i'll double check that number from tacloban to manila or sabu. >> as well as a lot of filipinos. >> senator schott is not a member of the committee but we give him questions through the chair. >> thank you for your indulgence. mr. ambassador, our condolences and appreciation for all your good work. director konyndyk, could you take us through the recovery
phase and best-case scenario from recovery standpoint and worst-case scenario and what resources american and international private, not for profit need to be put together so we can avoid the worst-case scenario? >> absolutely. thank you for that question. first, obviously there is only so much we can speculate because there is still a lot we don't know. we are gathering a lot of information. we are heavily focused on ensuring we get the relief response right. that has been the intense focus the past ten days. we are thinking now about the longer term and what that will look like. i will be traveling out tomorrow. that's going to be a major focus of my trip is exploring more of that. we know some things now. we know, for example, obviously transitional shelter will be an enormous priority. we are providing emergency shelter materials right now,
heavy duty plastic sheeting that was shown earlier. that can get period a certain period but obviously not a long-term solution. rubble clearance will be a significant challenge. we are talking with the military about whether the u.s. military can play a role in that. that is obviously a significant policy question for the government of the philippines, as well. we know as well things like agriculture will be very, very important to focus on. a number of important agricultural crops were wiped out by this storm. there is an agricultural area coconut farming, rice farming. we are going to be moving swiftly coordinating with the usaid development commission in the philippines to address early recovery needs and make sure there are not deficits there. there is a robust development mission that the u.s. has in the philippines. they will be prioritizing the response in the coming six to nine months. >> i think it's been established
that the united states response has been robust, has been well coordinated and has exceeded the response of any other country. my question for you is scale. certainly what we are doing is a lot. are we anywhere near dealing with the consequence management piece of this before we move into recovery? the response is no doubt robust, but is it enough? how much more will we need to do in order to wrap our arms around this problem in the next several weeks? >> i think the u.s. role so far has been crucial getting aid in but has been crucial setting the foundation for a much broader aid effort. clearing out initial logistical problems and with the government in the philippines, we enabled a much broader aid response without that partnership between usaid, state department and
department of defense would not have been possible. in terms of resource avail bu t availabili availability, we are getting more clarity on that. australia put in a substantial amount. i think that the total committed, the u.n. asked for $300 million for the initial response. as of yesterday, there is about 55% that had been committed for this point in a crisis within a few days of the appeal watching is generally considered to be a good figure. that figure is not based on a huge amount of evidence because it came out early. there is a lot more examination ongoing of what the true scale of the need and response of requirements will be. some of the other donor inputs are beginning to come online. we feel like it's in a good place for this point in time. the momentum is positive. the u.s. assistance and role was critical in getting the momentum and getting the ball rolling.
getting forward we will have to see how needs evolve. we are on a good trajectory point for this crisis. >> on behalf of the nearly 200,000 filipinos in americans living in hawaii, we appreciate your indulgence and great work during this difficult time. thank you. >> thank you, senator schatz. appreciate you being here. congress are here and we focus how we can help, and obviously, it's receiving the type of priority it should. one of the purposes of this hearing is to make sure the months ahead that the focus is still on how american help with the international community. and the government of the philippines. that's why i felt it was particularly important to hold this hearing and let people know this is not the end of our interests on this issue as to how we move forward and proceed. senator markey is here.
he will be recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. so in the wake of the disaster, there's also a risk of secondary disasters, unsanitary drinking water, rapidly spreading virus. what precautions and measures are being taken to protect outbreaks of infectious diseases? i don't know if that question had been asked? >> no, it has not. >> thank you, senator. that is a major concern of ours. we have been putting a very attentive focus on the health sector from the usaid side. we have not seen any -- we have not seen and the department of health has not seen indications of disease outbreaks. it's also a risk in this situation as you know because of a lot of standing water and often poor sanitation.
that's why from the beginning usaid and our colleagues have prioritized water and sanitation in our response so that people have access to clean water and that they can address some of the sanitary issues and hygiene issues that go hand in hand with that increased disease risk. >> will our ship the "uss mercy" be deployed? >> senator, at this point no. philippine authorities advised that they would rather have us focus in other areas that they felt like they had sufficient assistance plus their own resources on the medical side. >> at a time like this, we need to be focused on helping the survivors and the "uss george washington" and other ships are
providing essential help and saving lives. we need to be concerned about the next storm and the one after that. how did the early warning system perform and how could it be improved? >> it was certainly a significant factor in this case. while it's hard to speculate exactly how many lives it saved, we could say confidently it definitely saved lives. spuf usaid and other departments worked with the philippines to build up their disaster capacities. they take that seriously because they are hit by disasters many times a year. in this case their storm was anticipated in advance. there are regional meteorological networks that contributed to that awareness. that enabled the government of the philippines to evacuate nearly 800,000 people out of the storm's path and preposition food and other commodities. >> so reports that the storm
surge took many people by surprise you think is exaggerated? >> i think the storm surge was surprising. what we were anticipating was heavy winds, rainfall, actually we were anticipating much more worse rainfall problem than we saw. >> did the storm surge come as a surprise to our scientists? >> as with superstorm sandy where the severity of the storm surge was not anticipated, was a similar dynamic there. we anticipated some, but not a 30-foot storm surge. >> you think after hurricane sandy and after this situation we should begin to reevaluate what it is we should be expecting in terms of storm surges? is the fact that the oceans are getting so much warmer and these are so much more dynamic is something that should be factored in to what we include as warnings from storm surges?
>> i think, and i'm not a scientist on these issues. clearly we need to factor in the potential for storm surge. i'm not sure what the science behind making that possible looks like. it's something that after any disaster like this, usaid does an after action review. >> it is my understanding many casualties occurred in government shelters that collapsed or flooded. were they badly built and positioned or was the storm just too strong? >> senator, my understanding is that, i can't speak for anyone, but in general, people were evacuated to storm shelters that most of us had anticipated would serve the purpose effectively, but the storm surge in particular that jeremy described, i think, affected and
inundated some of those shelters, even if they withstood the wind and rain. >> this was an ef-4 tornado strength winds. what were the shelters built to withstand, do you know? >> there is going to be certainly once this initial period of intense activity settles down there will be a lot of probing of those questions. >> it might be advisable for us to work with them so we might be able to give them a good recommendation as to what the strength should be given kind of the predictable nature of intensifying of storms. water expands when it's heated, oceans are getting much warmer. as a result, the waves are much higher. as a result, the storms are much more devastating. so this is something that is scientifically indisputable and