TACLOBAN CITY – Over 20,000 survivors from different man-made and natural calamities gathered in the city by way of an ecumenical prayer and march rally at the Rizal avenue to mark the commemoration of 1st year anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda last November 8.
People’s Surge, a typhoon Yolanda survivors’ organization chairwoman Dr. Elfleda Bautista expressed frustration and disgust over what they saw as the “negligence” of the Aquino administration to address their needs.
She said, “(W)e are legitimate citizens of the country expressing our demands, but Pres. Aquino merely dismisses us as critics of his government.”
“As the president, he must listen to our supplications and not evade us. We are his bosses, right?” she added.
She said “there is really no system in our country; if there is, it is like the relief donations they had given to us: rotten.”
Bautista added that it is not only the Yolanda survivors who are suffering from the “rotten government,” but also all the other victims of man-made and natural disasters in the country.
She cited that situation of survivors from Zamboanga siege last September 2013, some of whom went to Tacloban last week.
According to government estimates, there are still around 40,000 remain homeless,who mostly live in crowded evacuation centres. Based on the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (OCHA) dated August 2014, there are 160 evacuees that died due to disease outbreaks in the evacuation centers, most of them are children.
Other victims of both disaster and “government negligence”, Dr. Bautista said, are the Typhoon Pablo survivors from Barug Katawhan (Stand People) and Indug Kautawan (People Uprising), in Compostela Valley, Southern Mindanao region. The two groups also joined the 1st year commemoration of typhoon Yolanda.
Karlos Trangia, spokesperson of Barug Katawhan said “the agency (DSWD) promised us for the relief donations, only after we barricaded the national highway of Montevista, Compostela Valley. But the agency has broken its promise.”
“It is rightful that we have to claim what is ours,” Trangia said, recalling how they “confiscated” the sacks of rice and other relief donations kept inside the regional office of DSWD.
Panalipdan spokesperson Kim Gargar scored the Aquino government for making the natural calamities also disasters, “not once, not twice, but thrice.”
He said that “first, the vulnerability of the marginalized sector are high, because they are weak especially when typhoon struck.”
“Second is the climate change as a result of high carbon emmissions in imperialist countries led by the US,” Gargar said.
He added that “third is the government’s negligence to the victims and stealing the funds intended for relief and rehabilitation.”
According to the report of COA as of December 2013, Php 736.3 million out of the Php 740.2 million cash donations for typhoon Yolanda survivors, which were deposited to the bank account of DSWD, remained unused.
Also, it is reported that last August 2014, the foreign aid pledges already reached Php 71 billion, an amount still unaccounted for, according to the Yolanda survivors.
Tacloban Mayor Alfredo Romualdez told the media during a press conference held at the city hall a day before the anniversary that, most of the resources did not go to them.
“One of the reason of the slow progress is the lack of resources. It is very difficult for the local government to answer the issues because donations were inaccessible despite the overwhelming support from overseas,” Romualdez said.
According to the National Housing Authority, only 2, 844 houses out of the 217,000 target number of houses were built for the survivors of typhoon Yolanda.
At the protest march, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares asked the survivors if how many of them received housing donations from the government, most victims shouted “Wala! (None!).”
Colmenares cited that there are a high budget was allocated for the typhoon survivors: Php 22 billion for calamity fund, Php 18 billion for unprogrammed funds, and Php 14.6 billion for supplementary budget.
Bayan Muna already filed a resolution seeking the investigation, in aid of legislation, on the losses inflicted by Yolanda. (davaotoday.com)