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World of solidarity stops at Customs

12:03 AM June 14, 2014

We need President Aquino’s help! So that we can help…

Until Nov. 8, 2013, Yolanda was just a cute woman’s name. Today, it is associated with one of the deadliest natural disasters ever. I can still remember, as if it were only yesterday—the distress in the voices of our Filipino friends who called us in despair. They told us they were safe, but as soon as the terrifying news images trickled in, it became clear that many people were not OK.

Our immediate natural reaction, even though we here in Belgium were thousands of miles away from the Philippines, was to do whatever was in our power to lend a helping hand. Our garage became a depot for relief goods overnight. We called on friends, relatives, neighbors for help. They spontaneously dropped by to donate blankets, canned food, clothes, toys—anything that could bring some relief and a glimmer of hope in the dark aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

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The Belgian people filled and shipped 12 containers of relief aid for the Yolanda survivors. These containers arrived in the harbor of Cebu a couple of months ago. And there the story of world solidarity unfortunately stops. Because of administrative problems (read: fees and taxes), the containers, which are full of relief aid, are stuck at the harbor. We have tried calling, begging, crying. Nothing seems to work. Could it be that administrative procedures are more important than thousands of Filipinos in need?

Exceptional circumstances ask for exceptional measures. That’s why I humbly but strongly ask for the intervention of President Aquino. The survivors of Yolanda and their friends in Belgium will be eternally grateful if President Aquino “untangles” this bureaucratic “knot” and allows the aid to reach the people in need. Just a few moments of his time and the President can  ease the hardships of thousands of Yolanda survivors. And it won’t cost him or the government a peso.

—HERMAN DEJONGH,

Draakstraat 32,

Antwerp, Belgium

hede1000@gmail.com

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TAGS: Belgium, Customs, Foreign Aid, letters to the editor, opinion, Philippines, Yolanda
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