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Manila to thank Taiwan for typhoon relief at national day event

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Philippine government will express its gratitude for Taiwan's assistance and support in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan that swept through the Southeast Asian country last November at an upcoming national day celebration in Taipei, according to the Philippines' representative to Taiwan.

The theme of the June 12 event to celebrate the Philippines' national day will be to express the country's gratitude to “the Taiwanese people for their generosity and their compassion” in helping with relief and reconstruction efforts following the typhoon, Antonio Basilio told CNA in a recent interview.

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), the Philippines' representative office in Taiwan, will also send letters of gratitude to the Taiwanese government and non-government organizations for their relief assistance, said Basilio, who has been posted in Taiwan since 2005.

Meanwhile, MECO is planning to make announcements in local newspapers around the national day to express gratitude for Taiwan's post-disaster assistance, he added.

Last year, public and private donors in Taiwan gave more than NT$300 million (US$10.13 million) in supplies and other aid to the Philippines after the deadly typhoon struck Nov. 8, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The amount included a US$200,000 cash donation by the government, it said.

Another NT$22.38 million was later collected from Taiwanese individuals and businesses, the ministry added.

In the weeks after the storm ripped through the Southeast Asian country, a Taiwanese Navy vessel also delivered 530 metric tons of supplies to the neighboring country, while military transport planes carried 150 metric tons of supplies, the Foreign Ministry said.

Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda in the Philippines, left at least 6,300 people dead, 28,689 injured, 1,061 missing and more than 4 million displaced as of April 17, according to data from the Philippines' National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

MECO cancelled the Philippines' national day celebration in Taiwan last year following the shooting death of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard May 9. The fisherman was aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat that was operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries.

The shooting strained bilateral ties, but ties between the two countries have been back to normal since last August after the Philippines met demands laid out by Taiwan — offering a formal apology, punishing those responsible, making compensation to the victim's family and starting talks on bilateral fishery cooperation.

Neither Taiwan nor the Philippines want to see a recurrence of similar incidents, Basilio said. The two sides have a long history of friendship, and have improved bilateral understanding and friendship since the incident, he added.

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