1,000 indigenous peoples in Panay Island join nationwide protests on Yolanda anniversary

November 8, 2014

Tumandok indigenous people join the national protest of Yolanda survivors on the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan.

Tumandok indigenous people join the national protest of Yolanda survivors on the first anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan. Image by BAYAN-Panay

On the first year anniversary of the day typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) wiped out several thousands of homes in Eastern Visayas and Panay island, around a thousand Tumandok indigenous peoples from the remote mountainsides of Iloilo and Capiz provinces of Panay join the nationwide protests of Yolanda survivors and their supporters.

The protesters decry the “criminal negligence” of the government over the relief and rehabilitation of areas devastated by the super typhoon.

An organization of indigenous peoples in Panay Island, Tumanduk-Panay, said that they cannot “feel” the billions of foreign aid given to the typhoon survivors, much less government efforts for relief and rehabilitation.

“One year after Yolanda, we are still trying to get back on our feet. We Tumandok people ourselves are rebuilding our homes, recovering our farmlands, and moving on from the loss of our families. The government, for its part, only extended us a few kilos of rice, some noodles, and a few cans of sardines after this tremendous disaster,” Marevic Aguirre, chairperson of Tumanduk-Panay said in Bisaya.

Tumanduk-Panay has launched rebuilding and rehabilitation using the “dagyaw” system of cooperation and collective work traditional to the Tumandok people. Although with limited materials, the rebuilding of their lives are underway, Aguirre shared.

“We are relying on our own strength to rebuild our lives and recover from this tragedy, because the Aquino government has failed to provide just relief and rehabilitation for us survivors,” Aguirre further stated.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC) places the number of people in Panay Island affected by typhoon Yolanda at 2,363,568. Of this number, 248 died, 1,023 were injured and 21 are still missing.

According to indigenous peoples organization Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP), the indigenous peoples affected by typhoon Yolanda are the least serviced by the government due to the remoteness of their homes and the “prevailing criminal neglect” of the government over the Yolanda disaster relief and rehabilitation.

“We aptly describe the government’s disregard and apathy for the Yolanda survivors as ‘criminal’ because, a year after the typhoon killed thousands of Filipinos, it still has no clear and concrete steps to help the people rise from the devastation,” Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of KAMP said.

Despite the P170.9-billion comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan (CRRP), Malayao said that there has been no significant help extended to the Tumandok people in Panay nor other indigenous peoples communities affected by the super typhoon.

Around 12,000 indigenous peoples were affected by the super typhoon in the provinces of Panay, Mindoro and Palawan, according to KAMP estimates.

“Indigenous peoples are among the most devastated in calamities, as their homes are usually very breakable and cannot withstand the torrents of wind and rain. Their livelihood is also much reliant on nature. Their remoteness and upland dwellings pose even more danger and difficulty to be reached by help. This is the reason why the government should have placed more effort in providing prompt and appropriate relief and rehabilitation for indigenous poples,” Malayao said.

“Aquino avoids to face the music and skipped visiting Tacloban where a massive protest is going to be held by Yolanda survivors. The call for his ouster from  the presidency will gain ground amidst his arrogance and indifference towards the suffering people,” Malayao claimed.

Twenty thousand people from all over the Panay Island participated in the Yolanda anniversary protest.###

References: Piya Macliing Malayao, Spokesperson 0917-3631576
Lea Fullon, Public Information Officer 0998-297500