[Blog] A storm is a product of nature. A tragedy is man-made. By CJ Chanco

A storm is a product of nature. A tragedy is man-made.

Suggestions by some quarters to crack down on “looters” are completely out of place. We need the military to deliver aid, not clamp down on the typhoon victims. We need paratroopers to fly in relief goods – not a police state.

CJ Chanco

Again, it isn’t looting if local sari-sari stores are giving away fresh vegetables to desperately hungry families because it’s pointless to sell anything when there’s nothing to buy, and money is practically worthless on the ground. I’ve heard this happen time and again. I’m sure there is more in Tacloban than complete desolation, Red Cross-stealing hooligans, and survival-of-the-fittest. While we in Manila consider ourselves their heroes, people are already acting on their own accord to piece together the fragments of their lives — for the most part, without the government’s aid.

This is the sort of resilience the media should be focusing on. Whatever happened, after all, to the much-vaunted “Filipino spirit”?

On the other hand, what some see as anarchy others see as survival. Crime and “hooliganism” – where they occur (which happens to be few and far between, despite PNP press statements) – are completely natural responses to human scarcity.

This does not in any way distract from the gravity of the situation. Because it *is* disturbing. This is the sort of thing we will increasingly see from communities neglected by the government for so long (with or without these disasters), if we choose to continue along this path.

Indeed, it can happen in Manila and New York and Paris just as easily as it is now happening in Tacloban. It’s the sort of Hunger Games-Planet Z-do-or-die epic we will increasingly see as governments everywhere clamp down ever harder on people already stripped of all the essentials of life.

Crises like these won’t be solved by replacing civilian officials in the province of Imelda Marcos – or anywhere else – with a military force to “control” the situation there. They won’t be solved by sending 500-men military battalions to crush “unrest” and further disempower local communities.

On this score, Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin, there is a world of a difference between declaring a state of emergency and declaring martial law
(http://www.rappler.com/nation/43363-tacloban-wants-state-of-emergency-martial-law-in-city).

Peace and order will be restored only when people rebuild their own lives and above all start to question why all of this is being allowed to happen in the first place. There is politics involved in all this whether we like it or not. The very causes of the disaster – from climate change to corruption and poor preparation – have deep political roots.

Haiyan made landfall just as the Warsaw UN Climate Summit was about to begin. If there ever was a sign from god, this is it.

But Western governments’ statements of solidarity with the Philippines are a bit laughable considering their shameful role in stifling all attempts at cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions in the ongoing negotiations:

http://www.theguardian.com/…
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-henn/super-typhoon-haiyan-is-a_b_4239206.html
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/ippc-pachauri-climate-change-spoilt-defiled-planet

Of course, any sort of “aid”, from any government, granted with no strings attached, is more than welcome at a time like this. But no amount of charity or “aid” is every going to make up for these countries’ investments on our own shores that are wreaking havoc on the environment. No amount of “aid” is ever going to cut the greenhouse emissions of the world’s multinationals and the fossil fuel industry (including our own coal-fired plants) that are rising by the day. Last minute pork barrel-infusions won’t help either, for so long as the system stays in place: a system eating away at the very heart of the planet while leaving millions vulnerable to future calamities like this one.

Our inaction today is what generations ahead will pay for in existential debt, plus interest.

Real solidarity with the people of Leyte, Samar, and the rest of the country cannot and will not stop at donating and packing relief goods. Joining people as they organize and mobilize *around the world* to move toward a genuinely sustainable and socially just future – yes, it’s a cliche – should be part of our efforts. It’s time to connect the dots.

Haiyan is a symptom of a problem rooted in a society that is swallowing itself alive on a global scale. It is not the result of an impending rapture, a media cover-up, or a US military experiment. These are the facts. It’s time to wake up.

There are also other ways of delivering aid to flood victims without depending on largesse from Malacanang or Pnoy’s PDAF, or on charity from big relief agencies, from crowd-sourced funding online to grassroots community networks. At any rate, Oxfam, the Red Cross, Unicef, Balsa, the small churches and people’s organizations we’re now helping out – and yes, guerillas in the countryside (whatever their politics) – are doing a far better job at it than our own government.

There are already deep rifts within the Pnoy administration. The disaster has caught everyone off guard: http://www.rappler.com/…

We really do need all the help we can get, and we can’t depend on the government alone for it. Please remember how long it took for its agencies to get its act together to help the victims of Typhoon Pablo — a much smaller storm.

This is my last uber-long post for the day/month- I promise. The longer we spend on the social networks, I think, the less is done on the ground.

#ReliefPH: Victims of Typhoon Yolanda need your help

http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/43300-reliefph-victims-typhoon-yolanda-help

#YolandaPH #ClimateJustice

https://www.facebook.com/cjchanco/posts/10153466740785514

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