SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - Twenty emergency vehicles from Japan intended for distribution in areas affected by Typhoon "Yolanda" in Tacloban, Leyte, arrived at the Port of Subic on Tuesday.
The vehicles were among the shipment on board the Panama-registered M/V Ligulao, which docked at the former Naval Supply Depot (NSD) terminal here.
Mariko Watanabe, Third Secretary at the Economic Section of the Embassy of Japan, said that the vehicles, comprising 17 fire trucks and three ambulances, have a total value of US$202,760 or about P8.5 million.
Watanabe, who was here in Subic to personally supervise the unloading of the vehicles and their transfer to the conversion facility, said the vehicles were funded through a Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
The vehicles, all right-hand drive (RHD), will be first converted into left-hand drive (LHD) in Subic, which is said to be the only place in the country that the government of Japan certifies to meet the safety standards in converting RHD vehicles to LHD.
Watanabe said the vehicles are part of the "The Project for Providing Emergency Vehicles for the Typhoon-Affected Areas in the Philippines" signed by Charges d'affaires to the Philippines Tetsuro Amano and Chief Superintendent Carlito Romero, the Bureau of Fire Protection's director for plans and standard.
The donations are expected to help strengthen the capability of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire (BFP) in responding to disasters and managing emergencies.
It is expected that the vehicles will be driven to their destinations in the Visayas on the second week of December after the necessary test drives here. The send-off ceremony will be attended by the Ambassador of Japan and Philippine government officials.
Watanabe said that a group of at least 12 BFP personnel will be sent to Japan to undergo development and skill trainings for them to properly operate all the second-hand but modernly-equipped ambulances and fire trucks.
Meanwhile, Chairman Roberto Garcia of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) was glad to note that Subic was chosen to be the offloading point for the emergency vehicles, saying that the least Subic could do in helping the Yolanda-devastated areas is to provide a facility for their unloading and conversion.
"At the same time, the skills and talents of workers in Subic are being recognized at the international level in motor conversion of right-hand drive to left-hand drive," Garcia said. (30)
A firetruck goes down the ramp of MV Ligulao, a Panamanian-registered vehicles-carrier ship, which unloaded emergency vehicles at the NSD Pier of the Subic Bay Freeport on Tuesday afternoon. A total of three ambulances and 17 firetrucks arrived in Subic as donation from the Japanese government to areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.