TACLOBAN CITY- About 66 public facilities damaged during the onslaught of supertyphoon “Yolanda” in Leyte were repaired by the members of the Korean Joint Support Group, also known as the “Araw Forces.”
The Korean contingent, who are to leave this month after a year of humanitarian works in areas hit by Yolanda, spent over P30 million for this undertaking. The structures that were repaired by the Araw Forces included 37 public schools, eight hospitals and welfare facilities, 17 government offices, and houses of four Korean War veterans. The group also rebuilt 14 public schools in Palo; 12 in Tanauan; 10 in Tolosa, and a central school in Dagami, all in Leyte.

In Palo alone, public infrastructures completed were the Leyte Provincial Hospital, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Home for Girls, and Department of Education (DepEd) regional office.
In nearby towns of Tanauan and Tolosa, reconstructed by the Korean armies were police stations, fire stations, courthouses and barangay halls. The Korean armed forces group, which arrived late December 2013, immediately heeded the Philippine government’s request for aid recognizing the participation of 7,500 Filipino soldiers during the Korean War in the 1950s.

Likewise, the Araw contingent has tied up with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for the establishment of Araw Vocational School, with course offering on heavy equipment operation. Shortly after the team’s arrival, they also assisted in the clearance of typhoon debris and organized “Operation Carabao” where they performed electric pole removal and vehicle salvage, and repair of sewerages. The group also conducted on-site medical missions in barangays and in their camp base at Government Center, Palo, and as of last week of November, they have already served 40,000 patients from various parts of Leyte.

Part of their main objectives in coming to the country was to support the Korean War veterans as well. They reconstructed houses and provided assistance to the families of the Filipino soldiers who sacrificed during Korean War. “I feel happy that the city as a whole is slowly recovering its function. I am thankful to the Filipino citizens for not treating us with reluctance and I hope the friendship between Philippines and Korea continues so that if either of us is in difficulty, the other one can reach out,” said Captain Kwon Youngwoo, public affairs officer of Araw. The Korean armed forces have been instrumental in the establishment of an agricultural institute, the Araw Scholar’s House, and the Araw Memorial Park. They are scheduled to return to Korea on December 17 this year. (SHAIRA S. VELENZONA,LNU Intern)