1 Year of Yolanda Disaster, Stormy Year of Injustices
Groups launch 8 Days of Actions in time for Yolanda Disaster Commemoration
Manila, Philippines – In the lead up to the first year commemoration of the Yolanda disaster, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), with its members and allies, comes up with its assessment on government’s handling of the Yolanda disaster, from preparation, response and rehabilitation.
“From the very start, the Aquino Administration has failed miserably! By saying that it is ‘under control’ which is contrary to its government’s level of preparedness was, in a way, already a death wish to all who perished when Yolanda struck Central Visayas. To sum up, the Aquino government was over-confidently, inappropriately prepared.” Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of PMCJ lamented.
The groups have lined up series of actions, highlighting the many injustices that the Yolanda victims and survivors have incurred, in the lead up to November 8, 2014 commemoration.
Arances further commented on the state of rehabilitation efforts that “After one
year, without a clear people-centered rehabilitation plan, tens of thousands still leaving in tents and bunkhouses, no substantial economic activities and sustainable jobs, among others, we can fairly say that what the government has done is that it has added more insult to injury to our kababayans who have suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda and is still continuously suffering the ineptness of this government.”
According to the assessment of groups affiliated to PMCJ on the one year Yolanda response, there are eight (8) injustices that the people of Central Visayas and other Yolanda-affected areas had to bear for the past year.
The government is also accountable for not only neglecting the people and the rehabilitation efforts by passing its obligations so easily to the private sector but also for encouraging further the degradation of the environment in these affected areas. “One concrete example of government’s neglect is when it continued to push for extractive projects in the devastated areas instead of protecting the natural resources of the country and preventing the worsening of climate change impacts and disasters. Instead of making sure that rehabilitation efforts are on the way, the government agencies and local government units ensured that mining operations continues in mineral rich areas in Samar and Leyte.” asserted Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and a
member of the Coordinating Committee of PMCJ.
According to ATM, In Manicani Is., Eastern Samar, it was Sec. Panfilo Lacson of the Presidential Assistance for Recovery and Reconstruction (PARR) himself, through an official letter to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, gave a go signal to the continuation of mining operations in the Island in the guise of pursuing rehabilitation efforts.
Another major problem with the rehabilitation plans as planned by the government was its imposition of a blanket policy regarding the, “40-meter no build zone” in Yolanda-affected areas, including the coast of Tacloban City. “The government imposed the policy without coming up with a clear guidelines and thorough consultation with the communities. We understand the need to transfer them to safer sites, however, if there are no additional supports from government and provision oflivelihood, this policy will be rendered ineffective because it will endanger the people further. Also, reports have reached us that the government is saving those premium lands from the coast to big corporations for tourism and commercial purposes. If this is true, then it is a clear violation of the people’s right to decent housing and access to livelihood in case of our fisherfolk kababayans.” said Pascualito Ilagan, PMCJ Eastern Visayas and President of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) Samar-Leyte Chapter.
Indigenous Peoples communities are troubled as well. “The commitment of the government was building back better. a year after Yolanda, did Indigenous women’s access to basic services improved? No! They remained isolated and excluded and are even pushed to a much worst situation of struggling every single day to ensure that there is food on their tables.” said Cheryl Polutan, Campaigner of Purple Action for Indigenous Womens Rights (LILAK)
The one-year assessment of PMCJ has enumerated eight injustices: 1) lack of government accountability 2) corporate capture versus a people-centered rehabilitation; 3) ineffective policies and lack of implementation of climate change laws and mandates; 4) loan-driven rehabilitation effort; 5) prioritization of dirty and harmful energy; 6) massive dislocation policy – no build zone policy; 7) lack of incorporation of sustainable development principles and addressing inequality; 8) inadequacy of international response.
The injustices, as exposed by PMCJ and its members, also include the inadequacy of international response and the Aquino government’s failure to lead in this arena. PMCJ also points out in its assessment the message that the Aquino administration raised during his speech in United Nations Climate Summit in New York and the failure of developed countries’ response to the lessons of Yolanda disaster.
“There is a need to push for all pending commitments based on responsibilities of the developed countries. We need to press for adequate climate finance under the Green Climate Fund with at least $100 Billion starting in 2020 and corresponding funds before 2020, as well as the long standing issue of radical and ambitious emissions reduction led by the developed countries that would limit the global emissions to 1 – 1.5 degrees Celsius.“ explained by Manjette Lopez, President of Sanlakas and head of Emissions Cuts Working Group of PMCJ.
PMCJ is asserting that one of the lessons of the Yolanda disaster is that we need to also address the loss and damages that countries like the Philippines are incurring due to the increasing impacts of climate change. Aside from Adaptation needs, or the measures to adopt to the changes brought about by climate change, a Loss and Damage international mechanism has to be set up immediately and that corresponding funds has to be put in place based on responsibilities of the developed countries.
Lopez added that “Pres. Nonoy, during his speech in the New York Summit, left these needs of the country unsaid and he lend the culprits of the climate crisis – the developed countries and their big corporations – not accountable and off the hook.”
Part of the eight days of action for the Yolanda disaster 1 year commemoration, a People’s Caravan for Climate Justice will be organized around the offices of the developed countries, including the US and EU offices, who are accountable for the climate crisis.
“In honoring our dead kababayans due to the Yolanda disaster, those that have been orphaned, as well as those who continuously suffer the ineptness of the Aquino Administration, we need not only learn from this, we also need to exact accountability. Let this 1 year commemoration of the Yolanda disaster be the start of a movement that will exact accountability to those that have neglected the need of our kababayans in the face of increasing wrath brought about by climate change.
Justice to all those devastated by Yolanda disaster and the ineptness the Aquino government! Climate Justice Now!“ Arances concluded.
OCTOBER 29, 2014
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