Sendong survivors still yearn for promised housing, livelihood

Jul. 26, 2012

Press Release
23 July 2012

Sendong survivors still yearn for promised housing, livelihood

Members of the Sendong Survivors’ Collectives (SC) in Iligan City gather to demand for the realization of the government’s promises in the aftermath of the Tropical Storm Sendong that devastated their communities on December 2011.

Their primary demands are the promised housing, livelihood and clear plans for the communities declared as danger zones.  The activity, to be attended by some 500 leaders, is both a mass action in time for President Benigno Aquino III’s third State of the Nation Address and a prelude to the collectives’ series of protest actions against the irresponsibility of the local government in addressing the needs of Sendong survivors.

Survivors in Iligan City have released a manifesto signed by the SC officers in behalf of the communities in Bayug Island, Bonbonon, Digkilaan, Dulag, Lanipao, Luinab, Hinaplanon, Mandulog, San Roque, Santiago, Sta. Filomena, Ubaldo Laya, and Upper Hinaplanon.  The manifesto stated their demands for the transparency of government transactions regarding the relief and rehabilitation operations for the survivors.

“According to the data presented by the Iligan City Hall, cash and check donations received by the local government amounted to 390 million pesos (USD 9.24M),” the manifesto stated.

“It is a big question where the donations went and how the money was spent,” lamented the survivors, saying, only a few of them were able to receive cash assistance which they could have used to rebuild their lives.

They are also questioning the housing projects promised by the government.  They cited that only about 200 families were relocated to Sta. Elena village.  They added, they could do nothing even as their communities are declared danger zones because they do not have a place to relocate.

“What’s worse, survivors from the communities declared as danger zones could no longer receive relief services from Non-Government Organizations because they are expected to be out of the area,” said Danilo Degala, a survivor from Santiago village.  “But then there are no clear plans where we should go,” he added.

The survivors are suggesting that if the government could not provide the houses promised to them, the budget allocated for house construction or repair should be given to them personally so they could look for ways.

The budget for repair assistance is PHP 50,000 (USD 1,184) while a new house is allotted PHP 110,000 (USD 2,606). Added to these are their demands for the promised cash assistance and for the rehabilitation of the infrastructures which are important to re-establish their livelihoods.

Not only are the survivors airing their demands to the local government unit, they are also questioning the national government whose support and concern for them have slowly died down with international relief services waning in the last few months.

“Again we question the transparency of the relief operations channeled through the government — both the national and local,” said Ferdinand Ridad, SC Chairperson.

“The immediate humanitarian support given by the international community was very high.  Plus the government has loaned for rehabilitation.  But why are we still in limbo?,” he ended.

For reference:
Ferdinand Ridad
Chairperson, Survivors’ Collectives (Iligan City)
+63 926 436 5315

Vennel Francis Chenfoo
Deputy Secretary General, Balsa Mindanao (Lanao Formation)
+63 935233 1509

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