Philippine Government Fails Haiyan Survivors

 

For Immediate Release

February 3, 2014

Philippine Government Fails Haiyan Survivors

Three Months after Haiyan, Affected Communities Call for Justice

Peoples SURGE

Sr. Edita Eslopor, a Catholic Nun and chairperson of “People Surge,” a newly formed alliance of Haiyan survivors demanding the government to provide justice including effective relief and an end the “No Build Policy” which is forcing residents off their land into substandard bunk houses.

Despite the outpouring of support and massive grassroots mobilization to provide immediate relief to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, there continues to be an overwhelming need for greater support and effective rehabilitation.

Reports from the ground depict homes, buildings, schools, town centers, and hospitals still smashed with materials scattered in every direction. Rows upon rows of people beg for food along the highways. Food, water and everything else are scarce. At night kerosene lamps illuminate heaps of scrap wood and tin roofs as makeshift shelters with people huddled for light, heat and consolation. Months after being hit by the storm, things are far from recovered.

One of the Typhoon survivors, Sr. Edita Eslopor, from the Order of Saint Benedict explained, “If you are in Tacloban now, with all the debris and piles of garbage around the city, you will think that the Typhoon only happened yesterday.” Eslopor is now the chairperson of “People Surge,” a newly formed alliance of typhoon survivors seeking justice.

In addition to feeling abandoned by their government, those in affected communities such as Tacloban are feeling doubly victimized, first by the typhoon and then by the Aquino administration’s neglect for their livelihood and social welfare. Typhoon survivors are appalled at the government’s broken promise to provide effective relief and the administration’s recent moves to implement a “No Build Zone” which is forcing communities off of their land into substandard bunkhouses.

pahantag relief

Typhoon survivor holds up sign saying “Continue to give relief” in Visaya.

Rowena Berio, a 36 year-old mother of five and Haiyan survivor from Tacloban City, who is without any shelter or source of livelihood said angrily, “Help from government? What government? The only help we get is from the international organizations.”

Patrick Escalona, another typhoon survivor of Tacloban City said, “We are homeless, jobless, hungry and sick. Our children cannot go to school yet. If the government can easily allocate pork barrel funds for congressmen and the President, there is no reason why the same government can not provide immediate monetary relief for us victims.”

Escalona referred to the Pork Barrel scandal where government officials, through the creation of fake non-governmental organizations and sham local development projects, embezzled trillions of Philippine taxpayer pesos. While congressional pork barrel has been declared unconstitutional, President Aquino, who holds the largest allocation at P1.4 trillion ($32.053 billion), has fought aggressively to keep his share.

peoples surge12

After enduring for more than two months deprivations in food, shelter and medicines, more than 12,000 residents of Leyte and Samar converged on devastated Tacloban to express their indignation against the agonizing inaction of the national government.

Uniting to demand justice for all Haiyan victims and to assert their right to food, housing, livelihood and social services, the People Surge alliance organized a vigil and protest bringing together 12,000 typhoon survivors together in Eastern Visayas State University. The massive number of attendees at the protest counter the results of a recent Social Weather Stations survey giving Aquino “very good” satisfaction ratings from Haiyan survivors.

In support of People Surge, Terrence Valen, NAFCON President, declared, “The international community has shown its love for the Philippines with the generous outpouring of support and millions in monetary and material support.  Now we must continue to build on this solidarity by demanding justice for all typhoon victims.  The communities in the Philippines can never rebuild unless we compel the Philippine government to end its corruption and genuinely prioritize the needs of its people.”

In the coming months, NAFCON will be launching its campaign for environmental justice to address the ecological crisis caused by widespread deforestation, mining, and other forms of environmental plunder that have made natural calamities in the Philippines so much more frequent and devastating.

For more info on NAFCON go to nafconusa.org, call our national office at 415.333.6267, or email info@nafconusa.org. ###

 

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