May 8, 2015

Rehabilitation is not for Sale!

Disaster survivors from different parts of Mindanao and Visayas converged in Yolanda-stricken Tanauan, Leyte to demand a stop to President B.S. Aquino’s wholesale selling of rehabilitation projects to business ventures in disaster-stricken areas.

As a national network of disaster survivors, Daluyong calls for “full and independently-verified” transparency in Aquino’s relief and rehabilitation funds amidst widespread cases of corruption by government agencies, local government officials, and non-government organizations and continuing sorry conditions of disaster survivors in substandard housing and in relocation sites that are detached from livelihood sources, high unemployment, and worsening poverty.

Daluyong leaders, in its national council meeting in Leyte, expressed support to Typhoon Yolanda survivors in their opposition to the business-led “Build Back Better” scheme which they said had only benefited President Aquino’s closest allies in the business sector through the Private-Public Partnerships (PPP).

Daluyong leaders specifically demanded full transparency on the government’s Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) that the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) implements.

“The guidelines set by DSWD only discriminates victims and sets the limits for its availment. ESA should be given to all victims,” said Marissa Calbajao, spokesperson of People Surge of Yolanda Victims.

Daluyong leaders also called for government’s comprehensive response to the impending drought to hit the country.  The El Nino is already hurting farmers, the prolonged dry season has been destroying crops making farmers who are yet to recover from calamities and farmers in general, fearful of the damage the drought will bring to their communities.

“The government is ill-prepared for this drought and we are not seeing a comprehensive plan. Unlike typhoons, the drought is a calamity with gradual but far-reaching effects on livelihoods and disrupts the next cropping seasons,” said Felipe de Jesus, of the Unyon sa mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN) who are reeling from the double blows of Tropical Depression Agaton and Typhoon Senyang.

Daluyong leaders representing different disaster survivors organizations shared common problems facing calamity victims today – commercialization of rehabilitation projects, corruption by government officials and use of rehabilitation projects for early electoral campaigns, heightening militarization, and increasing human rights violations in disaster-stricken areas.

Among human rights violations are the killing of disaster organization leaders (11 in Typhoon Pablo areas and 1 in Typhoon Yolanda area), military deployment in disaster-stricken areas to pave way for mining and plantation ventures, and red-tagging of protesting disaster survivors, their organization and leaders.

“Many of the leaders who protested the government’s corrupt distribution of relief aid to Typhoon Pablo victims have been killed. I am facing charges for public disturbance for a mass action demanding immediate relief aid. DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and President Aquino are the ones who should be tried and fired,” said Carlos Trangia Sr, chair of Barug Katawhan (People Unite) for their criminal negligence and corruption.

Daluyong leaders reiterated the chronic problems faced by disaster survivors even before supertyphoons reached their communities.  Most of the regions hit by calamities were already in the top 10 list of poor communities. In a recent survey, Yolanda-stricken area Leyte was catapulted into #1 spot, purportedly surpassing the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  Disaster communities have long been vulnerable to destruction due to the large-scale mining activities, logging, and vast agri-business plantations, but despite these warnings, foreign and local corporations continue to proliferate in these communities aided with investment incentives from the Aquino government.

Daluyong leaders vowed to continue their fight for justice and rights for the victims and survivors of disasters.#

Reference: Marissa Cabaljao +639358997858 (People Surge Alliance of Yolanda Survivors), Carlos Trangia +639303143841(Barug Katawhan, Typhoon Pablo Survivors); Rogel Otero (Indug Kautawan, Typhoon Pablo Survivors), Francisco Pagayaman +639361215714 (Survivors of Sendong – Collectives), Felipe de Jesus, Sr. +639076714223 (UMAN, Typhoon Agaton and Typhoon Senyang Survivors)