Build back better—or worse?

November 5, 2015

Yolanda survivors bring out true conditions 2 years after the storm

By People Surge

November 3—The 1st ever Regional Disaster Survivors’ Conference led by People Surge, the biggest alliance of disaster survivors in the Philippines, gave an avenue for Yolanda survivors to express their conditions two years after supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) ravaged Eastern Visayas.

The conference was attended by around 100 representatives from different sectors and provinces. Issues raised ranged from inhumane conditions in bunkhouses, demolitions, militarization, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), tide embankment project, and lack of basic social services.

Conciso Ocasla, leader of KUSOG, an urban poor organization in Barangay 37 Reclamation Area, said 72 households from their area were demolished last April 14 to give way for the Tacloban Fish Port Complex. Those who were transferred to temporary shelters in Barangay Suhi, northern Tacloban, are burdened with lack of potable water, electricity and longer distance from their livelihood, he said.

KUSOG members who were transferred to Barangay Suhi said the government has yet to fulfill its promise of relocation to permanent shelter. They were told, however, that the permanent housing would only be free for five years. After five years, households are bound to pay Php200 every month, not inclusive of water and electricity. After ten years, they have to pay Php600 every month.

“An ira ginyayakan na permanent housing, ginbabayaran hin 600 per month. Diri ini kaangayan” (What they refer as permanent housing will be paid Php 600 per month. This is not appropriate,” he added.

Conciso said instead of receiving help, this housing program pushes them to shell out whatever little they earned from their hardwork.

The same concern was echoed by a farmer from Quinapondan, Eastern Samar.

“Ha DSWD, waray hira ensakto nga ginhatag ha amon. Pirahay la. An ira ginhihimo, nagpapautang pa hira. An kinaiya han pautang, mautang ka nga waray lugod nim kontra ha tagan ka hin imo makakaon” (DSWD did not give us enough. Very few. What they did was lending. You will lend when you have nothing instead of receiving something to eat), she said.

Another farmer from Eastern Samar, meanwhile, said: “Ha tanan nga bagyo, nakaupat la naghatag an gobyerno didto ha amon. Nagpapasalamat ako han mga NGO kay han ira panhatag, waray mga resikitos. Diri parehas han panhatag han gobyerno. Waray kami makatagamtam hin bulig tikang ha DA” (Among all typhoons, the government has given us assistance only for four times. We are grateful to NGOs for distributing aids without requirements unlike the government’s relief efforts. We received nothing from DA [Department of Agriculture]), he said.

Eduardo Duran of Basey, Samar, meanwhile, assailed the militarization in their farming community.

“Pagkatapos han Yolanda, dida liwat umatake an panarhug. Haros diri pantugutan nga kumadto ha umhanan. Diri lugod hira kumadto hin pakig-away ha mga nakig-agaw nga iba nga nasyun? Adi lugod nga mga parag-uma an ira ginpupunterya” (After Yolanda, threats attacked us. We were almost not allowed to go to our farms. Why don’t they attack those from other nations? They attack us small farmers instead), he said.

On the part of fisherfolks, Mario Abelgas community leader from Tanauan, Leyte said after Yolanda, they faced the problem of having their boats destroyed. He further assailed government’s plan in constructing the so-called “Great Wall of Leyte,” the 7.9 billion pesos worth tide embankment project which will affect the livelihood of fisherfolks.

“Paano pa kami makapangisda kun papaderon na an am pangisdan” (How can we go fishing if the sea will be walled?”, he asked.

Other participants in the conference also raised concerns regarding the delayed and selective distribution of Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) which amounts to Php 30,000 each for totally damaged households and Php 10000 for partially damaged households.