THE European Union (EU) has offered assistance to the Philippines in the wake of calamities that have struck the country this holiday season, from Tropical Storms Urduja and Vinta to the sinking of MV Mercraft 3 off Quezon province to the mall fire in Davao City over the weekend.
“The EU is a longstanding friend of the Philippine people and stands ready to assist during this difficult time: by humanitarian assistance or by use of our development funds that can help to create an even more resilient country,” EU Ambassador Franz Jessen said in a statement on Sunday, Dec. 24, adding:
“It was with great sadness that I, during the past week, saw the devastation and loss of lives caused by Vinta, Urduja, the fire at the NCCC in Davao and the sinking of a Quezon ferry. The sadness is felt even more deeply as the tragedies all took place at a time (when) families were preparing to join each other to celebrate Christmas — a time of traditional peace and joy.”
Mr. Jessen expressed his condolences as well to the families of victims of the recent tragedies. Tropical storm Urduja which made landfall in Eastern Visayas on Dec. 16 left at least 40 dead in its wake, while about 200 died in the wake of severe tropical storm Vinta which made landfall in Mindanao last Friday.
Meanwhile, more than 30 were reported killed in the New City Commercial Center (NCCC) fire in Davao City and, days earlier, at least five were reported dead in the ferry sinking at Quezon province.
“On behalf of the EU Delegation, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones or have suffered in other ways during these calamities,” Mr. Jessen said.
The Philippine government has expressed reluctance to avail itself of EU assistance, in view of its criticism as well of the drug war on the watch of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. But aid by the EU continues, going by the Mr. Jessen’s statement. — Arjay L. Balinbin