People Surge secretary general Marissa Cabaljao and SAGUPA SB secretary general Nestor Lebico along with fellow farmers hold a dialogue with NEDA Region VIII director Boni Uy.
Typhoon survivors from Eastern Visayas contest the drop to 21.6% in the poverty incidence in the country and across all regions, a day after the National Economic and Development Authority reported the said achievement.
The typhoon survivors in the region, mostly peasant farmers, trooped to different government agencies on Friday to inquire about the present phase of the Yolanda rehabilitation. After 3 years, poverty ang hunger worsened in the region because of the failure to implement a comprehensive and pro-people rehabilitation plan.
According to regional government agencies, Eastern Visayas has yet to fully recover even after three years since Yolanda. Infrastructure spending and rehabilitation remain on target, with the completion of schools, bridges and roads. However, big backlogs remain in resettlement, with a total of P40 billion allocated but only about 28% completion rate. The agencies also acknowledge the lack of livelihood being provided but reassured the victims that budget will be released to implementing agencies like DA, DTI and DOT to assist them in their recovery. Social services enjoy 90% completion rate as it covers immediate relief given to the survivors like the controversial emergency shelter assistance and programs like cash and food for work.
Farmers from Northern Samar and Samar provinces listen to the rehabilitation updates. They stress that the rehabilitation program must focus on the agricultural sector as they are the most vulnerable in times of disaster.
“The whole rehabilitation plan is problematic because it is not geared to providing sustainable and long term relief and recovery to the victims. It is inefficient, as with the problems of different contractors and lack of land provided by the local government units for resettlements. Livelihood programs are export oriented instead of ensuring food security especially among our peasant farmers. Even the distribution of ESA is controversial and anomalous, with over 200,000 victims claiming that up to now, they still haven’t received the financial assistance.”, People Surge Secretary General Marissa Cabaljao said.
Because of these, SAGUPA Sinirangan Bisayas dispute the claim of the NEDA national office that the poverty incidence actually went down. “Eastern Visayas remains the 2nd poorest region, mainly because of the failure of the government to address the problems of the agricultural sector, which serves as the backbone of the economy. Failure of the rehabilitation program to zero in on the effects of Typhoon Yolanda to farming are even aggravated by the disaster brought about by pests in our crops. Coconuts haven’t fully recovered, and now pests destroy our abaca and rice crops that result in the gross drop in our production, rendering us farmers hungry and poor,” explained Nestor Lebico, the secretary general of SAGUPA-SB.
“Only the local bureaucrats and capitalists benefit from the rehabilitation program of the government, while neglecting the peasants and the poor. Our call remains clear. Genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization is the only solution to hunger and poverty. Implement a pro-people rehabilitation program!” Lebico added.