JAKARTA, 8 December 2014 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed its sympathy to the Philippines after the country was hit over the weekend by Typhoon Hagupit (locally known as Ruby) while still recovering from last year’s Haiyan disaster.

In a letter addressed to the Philippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh also offered assistance to the country. Minh said “ASEAN stands ready to assist the Philippines in the ongoing response to the disaster.” ASEAN will work closely with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) to continuously monitor the situation, according to Minh.

In his letter to Secretary del Rosario, Secretary-General Minh commended the Government of the Philippines “for its early warning efforts and implementation of disaster preparedness plans which have prevented greater losses and damages.” So far, Philippine authorities have confirmed two casualties related to the typhoon due to hypothermia. The extent of the damage and losses will be known later this week.

Starting 4 December, ASEAN deployed six members from its Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) and the AHA Centre, with two more on standby. While Typhoon Hagupit is reported to have weakened, moving west-ward as it makes an exit in the next 2-3 days, ASEAN’s team on the ground are working closely with the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to (i) provide emergency telecommunication support, (ii) assist in rapid assessment of NDRRMC, and (iii) provide logistic support for the deployment of relief items from the ASEAN’s emergency stockpile in Subang, Malaysia and facilitate incoming assistance from the ASEAN Member States as needed. Flooding and landslide are foreseen due to massive rain brought about by the slow moving Hagupit.

The 14th ASEAN Summit in March 2009 in Cha-am, Thailand, entrusted the Secretary-General of ASEAN to serve as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator. The AHA Centre was established by ASEAN in November 2011 to facilitate cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States and with the United Nations and international organisations for disaster management and emergency response in ASEAN region.