Manila, Philippines – On the fourth anniversary of typhoon Yolanda hitting the Visayas, Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed the Duterte administration’s implementation of the Aquino-made rehabilitation program for the victims of typhoon Yolanda, and demanded immediate relief for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector which was hit worst by succeeding natural calamities.
“During the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, the victims were already demanding a people-centered rehab program, initialed by the P40,000 financial assistance to each affected families, but former president Aquino denied this demand,” Casilao said in a press statement.
In February 2014, leaders of the People Surge, the group of typhoon Yolanda victims walked in Malacanang to submit their demand but Aquino snubbed them and rejected their proposal.
The demanded amount was supposed to enable victims to repair or construct their homes, where they were currently residing. Hence, they were already opposing a systematic resettlement of communities, particularly fisherfolk and urban poor communities along bay areas, as it was near their sources of livelihood. They were opposing the proposed no-build zone policy being floated then, but the Aquino administration commenced with constructing relocation sites and displaced communities on they classified as “hazard zones.”
“They were already opposing resettlement then, but the Aquino regime executed its Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, that involved big businesses to develop areas and displaced the people,” the lawmaker said.
Casilao said that amid gigantic funding from the government and foreign sources of at least P144 billion, the Aquino government still failed to complete their imposed relocation sites. According to the National Housing Authority (NHA), after four years, only near 40% of the more than 200,000 target housing units were completed and only 33% or 26, 256 of those completed where occupied. Leaders of People Surge have been criticizing the relocation program as they were remote, hence, beneficiaries abandoned the housing units and dwelled on the outskirts near their sources of livelihood.
“It is obvious that the resettlement program is flawed and inappropriate to the needs of the people and the Duterte administration will be worse nonsensical if it continues this absurdity,” Casilao said.
The lawmaker added that this is not solely an accountability of the Aquino regime, as the present government should have already made improvements on the Yolanda rehabilitation program since last year.
Casilao stressed that more vital than the issue of resettlement is the issue of damaged agricultural sector, from which poor sectors of Eastern Visayas region primarily source their livelihood.
After typhoon Yolanda hit on the region on November 2013, it was again hit by typhoon Glenda on July 2014, typhoon Ruby on December 5, 2014 and typhoon Seniang on December 28 to January 1, 2015. Hence, even before the agricultural sector could even recuperate from the ravages brought about by typhoon Yolanda, they were again devastated by the following typhoons. Based on various reports from the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), the damages on agriculture was at least P21.5 billion.
Casilao and other lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc filed the House Resolution No. 613 urging for the government to immediately address this issue and provide immediate relief for the poor sectors of the region.
“So the people of Eastern Visayas, are literally homeless, foodless and jobless, which is synonymous to hungry and miserable, but the Duterte government seems to be callous,” Casilao said.
Lastly, Casilao demanded that the rehabilitation program for the typhoon Yolanda-hit areas should be democratic and inclusive, otherwise there actually no reforms being taken, but President Rodrigo Duterte only mimicking former President Aquino. ###