PRESS STATEMENT October 29, 2015
On the second anniversary of typhoon Yolanda People Surge to lead protests, says 'never again for a tuwad na daan'
Thousands-strong delegates from different parts of Eastern Visayas are expected to converge in Tacloban City for a series of commemorative events and protest actions from November 1-8 in time for the second anniversary of Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). "On the second anniversary of Yolanda, lighted candles may no longer be enough," People Surge, an alliance of disaster survivors in the Philippines, said in its anniversary statement. "We must organize an escalated action strengthening our broad networks to pressure our own inept government as well as the world's top 200 corporate giants amassing wealth from carbon pollution and social exploitation." People Surge Secretary General Marissa Cabaljao said that their alliance remain firm in its call to frustrate the political ambitions of former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who is vying to be the country's next President, treading President Benigno Aquino's so-called "Daang Matuwid”. To recall, Roxas has been notorious after he was caught in video tactlessly implying that assistance is confronted with red tape because the Tacloban City Mayor is a political foe of the President. Meanwhile, two other officials of the so-called 'Gang of 5' –former Aquino cabinet members Ping Lacson and Icot Petilla – eye Senate seats. But People Surge declares that a vote against Roxas is a vote for accountability." People Surge also fears that, as the elections draw near, disaster funds will be used by those who hold the purse to campaign for Roxas, Liberal Party's Presidential bet. With the trillions of donations coming in and the drastic increase in lump-sum calamity fund for 2016, the government's track record does not prove that such funds will be used as intended. Cabaljao, meanwhile, also took a swipe at the shelter assistance provided by the government. She said that reports of loan sharks conspiring with government officials to lure several beneficiaries into lending their 'Emergency Shelter Assistance' have been aired while many identified households failed to receive the full amount of cash assistance. In Tanauan, Leyte alone, 4,468 families should have received a total of 30,000 pesos but only 10,000 pesos per household, short of 20,000 pesos, was given. On the issue housing, People Surge mentioned that “the local government in Tacloban targeted 12,345 permanent housing units, but only 342 units have been completed as of June 2015; only 281 of which were occupied. Those who agreed to move to the new settlement site are meanwhile burdened with lack of access to water and the lack of livelihood opportunities. Some of them have opted to return to previous communities in NDZs and brave recurrent threats of demolitions and displacement.” The anniversary statement further reads: “People Surge is enraged that instead of providing decent housing and basic social services, the government prioritized projects such as the 7.9 billion pesos’ worth tide embankment project which is set to displace roughly 10,000 households along NDZs. Funds that could have been better used to permanently resettle the Yolanda survivors and help them get back on their feet will now be used to displace them again.” On top of this, People Surge laments that for two years now, the government has given the disaster survivors what they did not ask for but deprived them of things they need. “The government’s criminal negligence exacerbated by its seemingly deliberate milking of rehabilitation funds, its slow and inefficient rehabilitation program, its fascist response to our legitimate demands, its aggressive tolerance of imperialist plunder, is a huge disaster in itself. Two years of injustice is long enough. We dare not extend more years of corruption and oppression by electing Mar Roxas, the poster boy of gross incompetence and implementer of Noynoy Aquino’s brand of deceptive and anti-people leadership, as the next champion of tuwad na daan”, People Surge ended.
Reference: Marissa Cabaljao Secretary General People Surge Alliance for Disaster Survivors
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