President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday led the commissioning of the M/V Amazing Grace, the Philippine Red Cross' first humanitarian vessel, in ceremonies held at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Roxas Blvd.
President Duterte recalled that when the 'Yolanda' tragedy struck the country more than three years ago, emergency responders faced the formidable task of reaching the devastated areas due to insufficient transport facilities and heavily damaged infrastructure.
"I am therefore happy to join you today as we launch the state-of-the-art PRC Relief and Recovery Ship known as the 'Amazing Grace'," he said.
The PRC will use Amazing Grace as an ambulance and disaster response ship.
According to the President, this ship shall serve as the realization of the PRC’s vision of effectively responding to any disaster anywhere in the country.
Through this ship, the PRC would be able to complement government forces in providing immediate relief assistance during emergency and crisis situations, he said.
This ship shall also serve as a reminder of the will and the determination of the PRC to face any obstacle in pursuit of its noble cause, he added.
"We therefore appreciate the efforts of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent Movement, in ensuring that PRC would be able to purchase this ship with funding from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies with British, German, and Japanese Red Cross," President Duterte said.
With the launch of this ship, the Chief Executive underscored the culture of volunteerism and selflessness.
"May this inspire us to come together and reach out to anyone who may need aid and comfort. I also call upon PRC to take a more active role and efforts to maintain peace and order in our communities," he said.
President Duterte christened the new ship, marking a milestone for PRC as it celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
The humanitarian vessel is a 195-foot military prototype vessel originally meant to transport military vehicles and came from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the US state of Alaska.
The twin-hulled vessel arrived last December and is officially the country's largest ambulance and disaster response vehicle. It can hold up to 120 passengers, 20 vehicles and has a 35-ton overall freight capacity.
It was purchased for approximately USD1.75 million (about PHP88 million) by the PRC, with the assistance of its international partners.