TAIPEI - The government of Taiwan on Tuesday sent two C-130 military transport aircraft carrying supplies to the Philippines as part of Taiwan's humanitarian aid mission in the Southeast Asian country in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
The two planes took off from a northern Hsinchu Air Base at around 1 p.m., according to the Ministry of National Defence (MND).
The Air Force Command Headquarters selected crew members with long-haul flight experience to carry out the mission, Military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) said.
The two planes were scheduled to land at Cebu Airport in central Philippines around 5 p.m. After unloading their relief supplies, the C-130s would leave the airport immediately and head back to Taiwan, he said.
Luo added that there are 20 crew members and one Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official on the mission.
Each plane can carry seven and a half tons of relief goods, he said, adding that whether more relief missions will be launched with the aircraft will depend on the weather and the collection of relief supplies in Taiwan.
A ceremony to mark Taiwan's donation to the Philippines was also held at the air base on Tuesday. The ceremony was presided over by Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Shih (石定), joined by the Philippines' top envoy to Taiwan Antonio Basilio, who received the supplies on behalf of the Philippine government.
R.O.C. Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft carried out similar missions in 2004 and 2010. In 2004, similar aircraft were used to perform a relief mission for victims of a tsunami in Southeast Asia, while in 2010, the transport plane delivered medical supplies and relief goods to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, one of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic allies.
During the previous relief mission to help victims of the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2004, the R.O.C. national emblem on the C-130 plane was blacked out, to avoid political controversy with countries that do not have diplomatic ties with the R.O.C.
However, an Air Force official told local media on Tuesday that the national emblems on the C-130 planes were not blacked out during this mission to the Philippines.
100 Tons of Supplies, US$200,000 (S$250,000) Donation
Meanwhile, MOFA said the Taiwanese government has so far received around 100 tons of supplies donated by citizens to aid the Philippines' post-disaster relief efforts.
These supplies include tents, blankets, food ration packs and instant noodles, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) told local reporters.
The government of Taiwan has already donated US$200,000 to its Philippines counterparts to help with disaster relief efforts this Sunday via Taiwan's representative office in Manila, Kao said.