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Article / April 17, 2014 / Project number: 14-0055

Ottawa, Ontario — On November 8th 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda by the people in the Philippines, wreaked havoc across the country and left many without housing and other essential services.

Members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) from the 1st Canadian Division deployed five days later  as part of Operation RENAISSANCE. DART provided a range of humanitarian assistance services, including water purification, road clearance and medical assistance.  Op RENAISSANCE officially ended December 15th, 2013, but the friendship it has cemented between Canada and the Philippines will far outlast it.

A delegation of representatives from the Armed Forces and Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines came to Canada at the end of March to learn about how the DART contributes to humanitarian support.

“We wanted to learn from the efficiency of the Canadian Armed Forces,” explained Lieutenant-Colonel Cesar A. Molina, Assistant Division Chief, Research Development Division for Operations, Philippine Armed Forces. “DART was so smooth, came very prepared, and were self-reliant. We really wanted to learn how they were organized and how they deployed so quickly.  We learned a lot about the processes and will consider developing similar processes ourselves.” 

Major Domingo G. Dulay Jr, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Philippine Armed Forces, explained what he hoped to learn from Canadian methods.

“We are looking right now at developing our Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) capabilities. That’s why we went to Trenton to look at the equipment being used.” 

“We learned about high readiness and the Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU). We’re looking at probably acquiring one.” Major Dulay also noted that “with this equipment also comes organizing our units, training them, and developing doctrine.”   

The ROWPU is an advanced water treatment system capable of purifying any water source found in the world; during Op RENAISSANCE three units were used by DART to purify nearly 500,000 litres of water for distribution.

The delegation visited the Canadian Army Headquarters in Ottawa, Canadian Forces Base Kingston and Canadian Forces Base Trenton among other places.

“In Trenton they have perfected the art of warehouse management: inventory and logistics,” said Jesus Domingo, Assistant Secretary, UN and International Organizations, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation described the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as partners and highlighted that it was a pleasure to work with them.

“The CAF members listened, rather than opposed. They were part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Domingo emphasized.

The reconstruction process is ongoing in the Philippines. “We are looking at re-establishing and bringing back better, safer homes, schools, infrastructure and livelihoods,” Domingo said

The delegation noted that one of their national exports is cheerfulness. “The people of the Philippines are still smiling, life must go on - cheerfulness despite hardship,” said LCol Molina.

By Samantha Bayard, Army Public Affairs

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