Yolanda victims demand the immediate release of the emergency shelter assistance (ESA), a day after the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) released a report on the failure of the Aquino administration to release the emergency fund to at least 200,000 victims of the strongest typhoon to ever hit land.
People Surge, the largest alliance of Yolanda survivors, have already filed a petition last October 7 at the regional office of the DSWD asking for the agency to finally deliver the aid to the victims. The petition included over 80,000 signatures of victims all over the region that have not yet received the financial assistance.
After the implementation of Memorandum Circular 24, which excludes households that are not within the 50km radius of Yolanda and those situated within the government declared No Build Zone from the list of recipients of the financial assistance, the group is asking for budget to be allocated to the said beneficaries to enable the release of ESA funds.
For instance in Tacloban City alone, there are already 12,000 families that have been excluded from receiving ESA, by virtue of the said memorandum.
“We demand the release of ESA, now! Free from discrimination, politics and corruption. The people have long suffered from the damage wrought by Yolanda, they have suffered again from the criminal negligence of the Aquino administration and they are still suffering much more now.”, says People Surge Secretary General Marissa Cabaljao.
Investigate and hold the Aquino administration and Dinky Soliman accountable!
The ESA has long been criticized as discriminatory, politicized and prone to corruption. The Aquino administration and then DWSD Secretary Dinky Soliman have been lambasted over issues of delay and selection of who will benefit from the assistance.
“We demand accountability from the Aquino administration and Dinky Soliman to answer to the people. An immediate investigation should be pursued to see the grounds for any legal action over issues of mishandling of funds.” Cabaljao said.
The group is also calling for transparency and accountability from the local government units that served as conduit and implementor in the various towns in the region. Issues of corruption and selection through political patronage have been rampant and have not served the cause of providing immediate assistance to the disaster survivors.
For instance, in the province of Eastern Samar, 13 out of the 22 towns have not received the financial assistance. The whole town of Balangiga was not able to avail of their financial assistance because the mayor returned the money to the National Treasury after he lost in the May 2016 elections.
The victims however are grateful for DSWD Sec Judy Taguiwalo for the swift action regarding the Yolanda funds. They are also hopeful that on the third anniversary of the typhoon this coming November 8, President Rodrigo Duterte will bare his rehabilitation and recovery program that is comprehensive and pro-people.