Friday, April 26, 2019

Storm victims call Duterte 'inutile' in solving 'Yolanda' woes

TACLOBAN. Members of the People Surge march in Tacloban City to demand justice for what they say as "criminal neglect of the government" five years after Typhoon Yolanda. (Photo by Eastern Vista)

A GROUP of storm survivors called President Rodrigo Duterte “inutile” in addressing the government's disaster agenda after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the central Philippines on November 8, 2013.

Malacañang maintained, though, that Duterte has doubled his efforts to address the recovery and rehabilitation needs of the affected population.

Efleda Bautista, president of People Surge, said the past five years since Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas “was supposed to be enough for the recovery and rehabilitation phase of the region.”

She said they marked the Yolanda rehabilitation under Duterte as “slow-paced, segmented and anti-people” and likened it to what happened during the time of his predecessor President Benigno Aquino III.

"We are more than ready to occupy once again the streets of Tacloban, rain or shine, to air out our state and our demands. We are the Yolanda survivors and we are ready to surge," said Bautista.

While saying that their survival is “non-negotiable," Bautista said another huge protest rally is set Thursday, November 8, in Tacloban.

Bautista said “there is a zero percent progress in the government's bogus Yolanda rehabilitation project.”

“The project is only aimed at attracting investors and creating businesses profiteering from the people's vulnerability to disasters,” Bautista said.

She said the Yolanda housing project in Eastern Visayas “remains incomplete while relocatees still suffering from the lack of basic utilities and livelihood.”

Bautista also hit the increasing prices of commodities, particularly rice, saying this “is a result of the government's neglect over the agriculture sector, most affected in times of disasters.”

“In the year 2017, P100 can purchase one kilo of rice, one kilo of fish, 1/4 kilo of sugar, one pack of coffee, and condiments and was downgraded to just two kilos of rice this year,” said Bautista, citing the data they gathered.

"Being the country's second poorest region, we are the most affected by the Train (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law implementation and is worsened by the fact that the government is just turning a blind eye on the state of the disaster survivors," she said.

Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go maintained, though, that the recovery is “fast” in Tacloban and Leyte.

He said Duterte is “always thinking about the betterment of the Filipino people.”

In his speech in Tacloban City on Wednesday, November 7, Go recalled how Duterte immediately arrived in Tacloban to deliver help to the typhoon victims and ordered for the continuation of the rehabilitation during his administration.

He said that housing “is now 80 percent complete” in the different resettlement sites in the northern part of Tacloban.

These resettlement sites also have an electric connection while its water system is on its bidding process, Go added.

Go also highlighted the 27.3-kilometer tide embankment project that aims to protect some 30,800 houses and infrastructure in Tacloban-Palo-Tanauan areas from similar storm surge in the future.

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo asked the public to join in commemorating the fifth anniversary of Yolanda.

“As we pay tribute to the sacrifices and support of those who were on the front lines of responding to the calamity, as well as all the nations, agencies, and organizations that helped us overcome the ordeal, we commend the exemplary resilience of our own people, which in the face of adversity, have remained steadfast,” he said.

“Yolanda has taught us a hard lesson in public service, particularly on the need to respond to our people’s plight with more compassion and urgency. This is why the Duterte administration has worked harder to fast track the recovery efforts for Yolanda survivors,” Panelo said in a statement.

Citing a report from the Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns, the oversight official for the Yolanda rehabilitation project, Panelo said that as of December 31, 2017, a total of P146.156 billion was released to implementing national government agencies, government-owned-and-controlled corporations and local government units.

Half of the funds released were allotted for housing programs and ancillary basic utilities, he said.

On the 205,128 permanent housing targets for Yolanda, as of October 30, 100,709 have been completed, 46,412 have already been occupied, while 54,297 are now ready for occupancy, according to the National Housing Authority (NHA).

“To speed up resettlement, we are addressing issues that cause the delay, which include limited availability of titled lands for resettlement, slow processing and issuance of permits and licenses for construction projects and absence of sustainable livelihood opportunities, among others,” the Palace said. (SunStar Philippines)


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