[Press Release] Advocates for Climate Justice Strongly Decry Aquino Administration’s reaction to UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on Yolanda IDPs -PMCJ

Advocates for Climate Justice Strongly Decry Aquino Administration’s reaction to UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on Yolanda IDPs

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), comprised of 103 member organizations from different sectors across the nation, welcomes the July 31 statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, but decries how the Palace responded through spokesperson Herminio Coloma, stating that the government vows provide swifter and more aid to the Yolanda victims.

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It has been almost two years since Typhoon Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, ravaged the Visayas section of the country. Yet, “many families remain housed in collective ‘bunkhouses’ that do not meet necessary minimum standards for the provision of basic needs and services and create numerous safety and protection challenges,” as per the statement of Beyani.

“We are appreciative of the inputs and comments on the dismal state of the rehabilitation efforts in Yolanda-stricken areas of the Special Rapporteur but we are likewise deeply concerned that the government has taken its time and waited for a Special Rapporteur report for it to make another promise to beef up efforts,” said Fr. Edu Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the Caritas Philippines and a partner of the PMCJ. “This is another promise that we fear will not be kept and it is a promise made already quite too late.”

Root Cause is a Flawed Response to the Disaster

According to PMCJ National Coordinator, Gerard Arances, “when the Government first created policies on how to respond to the rehabilitation needs, the beneficiaries that should have been the center of these policies were not even consulted on what they needed. The result was a lopsided approach that threw concepts of mitigation, resiliency and adaptation out the window.” He also stated that, “corporations were encouraged to take advantage of the plight of the victims in the guise of adopt-a-town program. Rehabilitation efforts became corporation-centric, these corporations were given free rein on how the rehabilitation efforts were being implemented, and people’s needs were now on the bottom of the priority list while profit-making was the top priority.”

Beyani stated that, “profiling, a full needs assessment and verification exercise is required during this crucial transition period between early recovery and the attainment of durable solutions.” This too has been one of the major criticisms of the PMCJ in the formulation of the government’s Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Plan. Because of the lack of consultation, the Plan was not reactive to the needs of the Yolanda victims. As such, thousands of families are still displaced, away from their homes and livelihoods, forced to live in sub-standard housing facilities that are not only incapable of sheltering them from the most normal of weather conditions but pose additional security threats.

“Can you imagine being forced to live in a cramped box-like structure, no better than a camping tent, for almost two years now?” asked Pascualito Ilagan of the Eastern Visayas Chapter of PMCJ. “Add this to the fact that you are uprooted away from your home, far from your source of income, already minimal as it was, and now you have to worry about additional threats to the safety and security of yourself and your family. There is no hint of building back better of communities that are resilient and adaptive to the so-called “new normal’ climate trends.”

Ilagan also said that the problem has nothing to do with lack of funding but with the political will and the government’s basic concern with your fellow countrymen.

Promise of more funds means more debt

PMCJ has rejected Aquino’s approach to rehabilitation that paved the way for more indebtedness since a major chunk, Php 120 billion out of the total Php 170 billion, budget for rehabilitation came from loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The government’s solution to put more funding into the rehabilitation will most probably come from additional loans.

“This practice of begging for loans rather than demanding for compensation and reparation is the most counter-productive approach to any rehabilitation effort. What the government should do is to demand that these institutions pay for damages or at the very least provide in the form of grants and not loans,” added by Arances. “Let us not forget that Yolanda is also a product of the worsening climate change, of which the biggest culprits are those same institutions, along with the governments of the north, and big fossil fuel corporations that these institutions have funded for a long time.”

PMCJ demands that the Aquino government revisit its policies and rather than taking the time to act, it should take the time to know what is really needed through a proper, sincere and comprehensive consultation with the public. PMCJ also calls for the government to act for the benefit of the Filipino people and not for the corporations and foreign institutions.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
August 4, 2015

Mr. Gerry Arances, PMCJ National Coordinator– 09328778578, gerry.arances@gmail.com
Mr. Pascualito Iligan, PMCJ Eastern Visayas – p.ilagan@yahoo.com

Fr. Edu Gariguez, Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary and PMCJ Partner – edugariguez@gmail.com

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