Aquino gov’t should be schooled in Disasters 101

Yolanda and other recent disaster crises are man-made, green groups say

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

26 February 2014

Green groups under the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
(Kalikasan PNE) hit what they call the “willfully ignorant bordering on
deceitful” pronouncement of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III during
the commemoration of the 1986 EDSA People Power anniversary, that the
challenge presented in the crisis of the aftermath left by Super Typhoon
Yolanda (international name Haiyan) is a “challenge coming from nature,
not men.”

“Pres. Aquino’s dim view that the growing frequency and strength of
hazards such as Yolanda is simply a natural problem is an uninformed and
downright irresponsible idea. Aquino needs to be reschooled on basic
concepts on disasters seeing how he still does not understand the nature
of disasters and is thus incapable of addressing its roots,” said
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

While natural hazards such as typhoons and storm surges are indeed born
from the Earth’s weather systems, there is an international consensus
through the Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted by the World Conference
on Disaster Reduction in 2005, which points out that disasters are as a
result of unaddressed economic, social, environmental and political
vulnerabilities in a society.

“Natural hazards cannot be stopped but its impacts on society can be
avoided or mitigated by reducing community vulnerabilities such as
poverty, environmental degradation, and through the building of
capacities of communities to face these impacts. The Aquino
administration’s denial of these inherent problems in the communities
devastated by extreme rainfall and weather events over the past three
years will serve to neglect long-standing disaster risks,” Bautista
clarified.

“This criminal negligence of communities at high risk of disaster can
actually be seen in the relief and rehabilitation programs of the Aquino
administration,” Bautista said

Noting that this “criminal negligence of disaster-vulnerable communities
can be seen in the anti-people relief and rehabilitation programs of the
Aquino administration,” Bautista cited a data audit conducted by the
scientist group AGHAM and the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) on the
Aquino administration’s Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, the National
Economic Development Authority’s rehabilitation program document, and
the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s 100-day report:

On food relief delivery

The average amount of 4 food packs delivered by government to survivors
was not even able to provide 1% of the daily kilocalorie requirement set
by international humanitarian standards.

On cash-for-work assistance

The government’s cash-for-work program only benefited a negligible 1.6%
of all affected families. Beneficiaries earned about P245.00 to P260.00
daily just for 10 days, or an average of P25.00 a day during the first
100 days after Yolanda. This is way below the average annual daily
income in Eastern Visayas, which ranges from P220.00 to P262.00.

On temporary and permanent housing

There is almost no effort to provide temporary or permanent houses. An
almost nil 0.17% of the affected families were transferred to
substandard houses, whose overpricing is being denied by government
officials.

It is also currently implementing a “No-Build Zone” policy that are
preventing the resettlement of coastal communities without providing
sufficient alternatives to housing, social services and livelihood, but
is allocating the vacated spaces to ecotourism and economic zones for
big business.

“When the Yolanda survivors sought to hold accountable government for
its neglect of responsibilities mandated by national laws and
international agreements, the Aquino administration has resorted to
ignore and even vilify them. It is deplorable that Aquino himself
snubbed the demands of survivors for an emergency P40,000 cash
assistance alongside a a comprehensive set of proposals for disaster
recovery and justice, only to ridicule the proposals in media
pronouncements later,” said Bautista.

“Rehabilitation secretary Panfilo Lacson, already criticized for letting
corporate interests take over the post-Yolanda rehabilitation, has
resorted to calling the survivors ‘communist destabilizers.’ Lacson’s
militaristic views have no place in the realm of humanitarian work and
disaster risk management,” Bautista added.

Kalikasan PNE challenged the Aquino administration to take a remedial
crash course on disasters by carefully studying the 18-point People’s
Demands for Post-Yolanda Rehabilitation, Recovery and Justice presented
by the Yolanda survivors and advocates’ network People Surge.

“An inept, negligent and arrogant government under the Aquino regime is
likely the biggest social vulnerability that afflicts our communities
with great disaster risks. Ignorant of the roots of disaster and
belligerent towards the disaster victims he should be in solidarity
with, Aquino has better start rethinking his disaster policy and
programs or else he should just be removed from his position for his
non-performance,” ended Bautista. ##

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator – Kalikasan People’s
Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) – 0922 844 9787


Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com
Website: http://www.kalikasan.net