UPSURGE OF HUNGER NOTED IN AREAS DEVASTATED BY 'YOLANDA'

Some 3.90 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2013, with an upsurge recorded in the disaster-hit Visayas area, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. The survey was conducted from Dec. 11 to 16 and was first published in the BusinessWorld newspaper. The SWS found 18.1 percent of the respondents said they experienced hunger at least once in the previous three months, slightly higher than 17.9 percent, or 3.85 million, in September. This resulted in a full-year average of 19.5 percent for 2013, 0.4 percentage point lower than that in 2012. The SWS also found that overall hunger among self-rated poor had risen to 24.6 percent from 23.2 percent, while it declined to 10.3 percent from 12.5 percent among households under not poor/borderline category. Overall hunger also increased among self-rated “food-poor” to 30.5 percent from 26.6 percent, but declined among families under not food-poor/borderline category to 9.6 percent from 12.9 percent.

ALSO: Yolanda victims to govt: Don’t belittle our anger

VICTIMS and survivors of super typhoon Yolanda on Monday warned the government to stop deceiving the public about the slow pace of rehabilitation in the Visayas, saying such efforts only fuel their growing discontent. “The Aquino government should not ignore our urgent call and our grief, much less belittle our anger,” said the Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban, which called on President Benigno Aquino III to release P40,000 in relief to each of the survivor families. “We clamor for our right to food, housing, livelihood and adequate social services. The government should listen, take action and end its apparent effort to confuse and calculatedly misconstrue our petition in order for the government to put forward its shameless, if not, heartless maneuver to shortchange us,” said Patrick Escalona, a leader of the group. In an e-mailed statement to the Manila Standard, Escalona said, “Any form of deception, in words and in deed, that the Aquino administration uses only worsens our condition and fuels the growing discontentment among us typhoon victims.” Escalona’s statement came in response to reports that the Palace is considering giving the survivor families “reconstruction support” instead.

Palace: Proposed P40K grant for Yolanda victims needs to be studied

Malacañang on Friday said that they will still need to study a petition to grant
families who survived Typhoon Yolanda P40,000 each because of potential budget constraints. "It will have to be discussed, at least, by the relevant agencies with the President on how feasible that would be. There may be limitations on that," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing. According to a report on Catbalogan City-based Samar News, the Alyansa han mga Biktima han Bagyo Yolanda ha Tacloban or Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban (ABBAT) has initiated a petition asking the government for P40,000 in "immediate financial assistance" for typhoon survivors. “We are homeless, jobless, hungry and sick. Our children cannot go to school yet. We know there are funds for the victims but we don’t know where the government’s rehabilitation program is headed to,” Patrick Escalona, an ABBAT community leader said in a press release published on Samar News. But Valte said the government is trying to "make do" with what they can offer the victims like socialized housing and other programs to address their needs.

ALSO: Calamities displace 4.7 million Filipinos

IN just 60 days, more than four million Filipinos were displaced by a series of calamities that struck the country, according to an international relief agency. Bernard Kerblat, country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Philippines, said that from September 9 to November 8, there were 14 events that led to the displacement of more than 4.7 million Filipinos. Super Typhoon Yolanda alone forced more than four million people to leave their homes, Keblat said. With the large number of displaced people, Kerblat called for law upholding the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs). “This underlines the need for a specific law that addresses the critical vulnerabilities and protection concerns of IDPs,” said Kerblat adding that if enacted, this will be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific.

ALSO: ‘Agaton’ wrecks ‘Yolanda’ survivors’ shelters

The United Nations (UN) warned yesterday more needed to be done to help millions displaced by the Philippines’ deadliest typhoon, after a new storm tore down flimsy shelters. More than 1,000 survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” fled to the safety of government buildings in the town of Guiuan on the weekend as tropical depression”Agaton” flattened tents and ripped the roofing off other temporary shelters, officials said. “The (new) strom is a reminder that more needs to be done.... for vulnerable displaced people,” Russell Geekie, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Agence France Presse. Guiuan, on Samar island, was the first area to be devastated when Yolanda hit on Nov. 8. It left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing and more than four million others homeless across the central islands, officials said.


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Upsurge of hunger noted in areas devastated by ‘Yolanda’


Some 3.90 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2013, with an upsurge recorded in the disaster-hit Visayas area, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey. INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON FILE PHOTO

MANILA, JANUARY 21, 2014 (INQUIRER) Some 3.90 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2013, with an upsurge recorded in the disaster-hit Visayas area, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

The survey was conducted from Dec. 11 to 16 and was first published in the BusinessWorld newspaper.

The SWS found 18.1 percent of the respondents said they experienced hunger at least once in the previous three months, slightly higher than 17.9 percent, or 3.85 million, in September.

This resulted in a full-year average of 19.5 percent for 2013, 0.4 percentage point lower than that in 2012.

The SWS also found that overall hunger among self-rated poor had risen to 24.6 percent from 23.2 percent, while it declined to 10.3 percent from 12.5 percent among households under not poor/borderline category.

Overall hunger also increased among self-rated “food-poor” to 30.5 percent from 26.6 percent, but declined among families under not food-poor/borderline category to 9.6 percent from 12.9 percent.

The latest hunger survey follows the release by SWS last week of self-rated poverty in the fourth quarter of 2013 where 55 percent, or 11.8 million Filipino families, claimed to be poor.

In the same survey, the SWS found 41 percent, or 8.8 million families, considered themselves food-poor, up from 37 percent.

It classified experiencing hunger “only once” or “a few times” as “moderate hunger,” while going hungry “often” or “always” was rated as “severe hunger.”

Moderate hunger slightly increased to 15.4 percent in December from September’s 15.3 percent, which led to an average of 15.9 percent in 2013, 0.3 percentage point higher than that in 2012.

Increase in hunger

Severe hunger stood at 2.7 percent, or around 583,000 families, from 2.6 percent, yielding a full-year average of 3.6 percent, or 0.7 percentage point lower than the previous year.

While overall hunger remained unchanged in Metro Manila and fell in Mindanao and the rest of Luzon, it registered a 6.5-percentage point increase in the Visayas following the disasters that devastated the region in the last quarter.

About 726,000 families, or 17.5 percent, in the Visayas experienced hunger, hitting an average of 16.1 percent, up from 14.6 percent in 2012.

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Bohol province and nearby provinces on Oct. 15, leaving at least 222 dead. Less than a month after, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) barreled through Eastern Visayas, killing more than 6,000 people and causing damage estimated at P36.7 billion.

In Metro Manila, overall hunger stayed at 24.3 percent, while it declined in Mindanao (from 22.3 percent to 19.7 percent) and the rest of Luzon (from 16. 7 percent to 15.7 percent).

The 2013 full-year average results in Metro Manila (from 22.9 percent to 23.5 percent) and the rest of Luzon (from 17.8 percent to 18.3 percent) both slightly increased, while Mindanao posted a 4.2-percentage point decrease, to 22.1 percent.

Moderate hunger, meanwhile, was unchanged in the rest of Luzon (14 percent) but up both in Metro Manila (from 17.7 percent to 18.3 percent) and in the Visayas where it registered a 4.6-percentage point increase (from 9.7 percent to 14.3 percent).

It declined in Mindanao (from 21.3 percent to 17.3 percent), yielding the areas of corresponding averages: 17.8 percent, 14.6 percent, 14.0 percent and 18.8 percent.

Severe hunger fell both in Metro Manila (from 6.7 percent to 6 percent) and in the rest of Luzon (from 2.7 percent to 1.7 percent), while it slightly increased in the Visayas (from 1.3 percent to 3.2 percent) and in Mindanao (from 1 percent to 2.3 percent), leading to averages of 5.7 percent, 3.7 percent, 2.1 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.—Rafael L. Antonio, Inquirer Research

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Yolanda victims to govt: Don’t belittle our anger By Ronald Reyes | Jan. 21, 2014 at 12:01am

TACLOBAN - VICTIMS and survivors of super typhoon Yolanda on Monday warned the government to stop deceiving the public about the slow pace of rehabilitation in the Visayas, saying such efforts only fuel their growing discontent.

“The Aquino government should not ignore our urgent call and our grief, much less belittle our anger,” said the Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban, which called on President Benigno Aquino III to release P40,000 in relief to each of the survivor families.

“We clamor for our right to food, housing, livelihood and adequate social services. The government should listen, take action and end its apparent effort to confuse and calculatedly misconstrue our petition in order for the government to put forward its shameless, if not, heartless maneuver to shortchange us,” said Patrick Escalona, a leader of the group.

In an e-mailed statement to the Manila Standard, Escalona said, “Any form of deception, in words and in deed, that the Aquino administration uses only worsens our condition and fuels the growing discontentment among us typhoon victims.”

Escalona’s statement came in response to reports that the Palace is considering giving the survivor families “reconstruction support” instead.

“The petition we have initiated has already gained support from fellow victims and supporters. The initial 10,000 petitioners do not only represent Tacloban City but also victims in other municipalities in Eastern Visayas,” the group said.

“To put it forward, the P40,000 immediate financial assistance falls within the context of relief and not in any way a substitute for reconstruction. Even so, the said amount is only crumbs compared to our urgent need for food, housing, livelihood, adequate education and health services,” Escalona added.

The government’s distribution of relief has been insufficient since the beginning, he added.

“Our status as victims worsens because of the Aquino government’s dilly-dallying in addressing our welfare and because of his incompetence in delivering prompt and adequate relief and services for more than two months now. The government had been so slow, inefficient, incompetent and negligent to respond promptly to our needs.”

Escalona said the demand for P40,000 in immediate financial reliefseeks to cover every affected family of super typhoon Yolanda not only in Tacloban City or Eastern Visayas but also in other regions.

“This amount is equivalent to two months of decent living for a family of six in the Eastern Visayas Region prior to the typhoon but with soaring prices that this government cannot control, this amount can provide for one month of relief only.”

“We are suffering day by day. Our fellow victims are either homeless, jobless, hungry or sick. Our children cannot go to school yet. No amount of money can certainly compensate for the lives of our friends and loved ones whom we have lost.”

“The devastation wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda was terrible yet we do not forget this government’s negligence in ensuring our welfare,” Escalona added.

Because the national government has been slow, many victims rely on direct foreign assistance.

Aljim Denver Arcueno, a working student in Tacloban, said he has been looking for help from the government after the Nov. 8 typhoon.

But since this has been slow in coming, Arcueno and his family depend on relief from international groups such as the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Foundation.

The group is extending a cash-for-work program and other financial relief ranging from P8,000 to P15,000 per household, depending on the number of family members.

Typhoon Yolanda has left more than 8,000 dead or missing, with Tacloban city having the largest number of casualties.

In Congress, Reps. Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list and Jerry Trenas of Iloilo said the government should be able to provide the victims and survivors the much needed help amid the ongoing rehabilitation effort being undertaken by the concerned government agencies.

“The Yolanda victims need help and they need it now. The government should give them what they are asking for,” Bello said.

While he acknowledged the sufferings of the victims of the killer typhoon, Trenas said it is incumbent upon the government to make sure that the money, if granted, will be used for the rebuilding their houses and not for anything else.

“If there is a design for a standard house, I support the P40,000 worth of housing materials for each of them,” Trenas said.

But House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr., both administration allies, and opposition Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela cautioned the government against giving financial aid to the Yolanda victims while the rehabilitation efforts led by former senator Panfilo Lacson are being undertaken.

Tugna said the petition is a good proposal, but said the government has an existing program to rebuild and rehabilitate the areas affected by Yolanda.

Granting the petition would mean an admission on the part of the government that its response has been slow, he added.

Barzaga said Lacson and other Cabinet secretaries to study the petition.

“We should not accept the allegations in the petition as gospel truth. Due diligence demands a careful scrutiny of the actual situation of the 10,000 petitioners most especially since the amount involved is P400 million. We should maximize the beneficial use of the funds for the victims of Yolanda,” Barzaga said.

Albano said that giving the money directly to the Yolanda victims is uncalled for, saying it would set a bad precedent.

“That will be worse than giving alms to the poor,” Albano said.

In the Senate, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said a special provision in the P20 billion budget for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program in the 2014 national budget imposes long jail terms and hefty fines for those who embezzle rebuilding funds.

The provision states that any government official, employee and person who shall misuse any amount of the fund under his control or administration shall suffer the maximum penalty under the Anti-Plunder Law—which is life imprisonment and a life-time ban on holding public office. With Maricel V. Cruz and Macon Ramos-Araneta

FROM GMA NEWS TV

Palace: Proposed P40K grant for Yolanda victims needs to be studied January 17, 2014 5:28pm
 

Malacañang on Friday said that they will still need to study a petition to grant families who survived Typhoon Yolanda P40,000 each because of potential budget constraints.

"It will have to be discussed, at least, by the relevant agencies with the President on how feasible that would be. There may be limitations on that," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing.

According to a report on Catbalogan City-based Samar News, the Alyansa han mga Biktima han Bagyo Yolanda ha Tacloban or Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban (ABBAT) has initiated a petition asking the government for P40,000 in "immediate financial assistance" for typhoon survivors.

“We are homeless, jobless, hungry and sick. Our children cannot go to school yet. We know there are funds for the victims but we don’t know where the government’s rehabilitation program is headed to,” Patrick Escalona, an ABBAT community leader said in a press release published on Samar News.

But Valte said the government is trying to "make do" with what they can offer the victims like socialized housing and other programs to address their needs.

She added that they always inform the Department of Trade and Industry whenever they receive reports of violations of the prize freeze implemented in calamity-hit areas.

In December, President Benigno Aquino III appointed former senator Panfilo Lacson to head rehabilitation and reconstruction in areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda.

The government has already begun building shelters for typhoon survivors, among the first steps in rebuilding that is expected to last until 2017.

No political agenda in interfaith prayer on Monday

Malacañang has also denied there was any other reason for gathering officials and religious groups on Monday other than to pray for the victims of calamities.

"Ibang event, or at least, iba po iyong thrust as explained by Secretary [Herminio] Coloma of the activity on Monday," Valte said.

She did not, however, elaborate on the statement.

On Thursday, the Palace announced Aquino will lead an interfaith prayer on Monday for the victims of calamities, specifically of the Zamboanga crisis, Bohol earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda.

It said the President will be joined by representatives of various faiths, including Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Police Superintendent Imam Ebra Moxsir of the Imam Council of the Philippines, Commissioner Zenaida Pawid of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples, Isaias Samson of Iglesia ni Cristo, and a representative of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. — Kimberly Jane Tan/JDS, GMA News

FROM MANILA TIMES

Calamities displace 4.7 million Filipinos January 20, 2014 9:55 pm by Ritchie A. Horario Reporter

IN just 60 days, more than four million Filipinos were displaced by a series of calamities that struck the country, according to an international relief agency.

Bernard Kerblat, country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Philippines, said that from September 9 to November 8, there were 14 events that led to the displacement of more than 4.7 million Filipinos.

Super Typhoon Yolanda alone forced more than four million people to leave their homes, Keblat said.

With the large number of displaced people, Kerblat called for law upholding the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“This underlines the need for a specific law that addresses the critical vulnerabilities and protection concerns of IDPs,” said Kerblat adding that if enacted, this will be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific.

The UNHCR in February 2913 lauded the Philippine Congress for passing legislation espousing the right of IDPs to protection and assistance. The measure was eventually vetoed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in May.

The agency welcomed fresh efforts in the legislature to revive the bill.

“The frequent advent of disasters in this country shows the necessity for a legislative framework to uphold the rights of IDPs. We also hope that once passed, this legislation will serve as a model for other countries in the region facing similar issues of forced displacement,” added Kerblat.

Yolanda is the last in a series of crises that struck the country last year.

There was also the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol, Typhoons Santi and Odette and three episodes of heavy rains linked to Intertropical Convergence Zones, as well as the attack on Zamboanga City by rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front.

FROM THE DAILY TRIBUNE

‘Agaton’ wrecks ‘Yolanda’ survivors’ shelters Written by AFP Tuesday, 21 January 2014 00:00


FROM GMA NEWS TV: A man assists flood victims on Monday, January 20, after Tropical Depression Agaton battered Butuan City and nearby areas in Mindanao over the weekend. An NDRRMC report said floods and landslides caused by Agaton have killed 40 people and displaced 153,193 families in 15 provinces. Reuters/Erik De Castro

The United Nations (UN) warned yesterday more needed to be done to help millions displaced by the Philippines’ deadliest typhoon, after a new storm tore down flimsy shelters.

More than 1,000 survivors of super typhoon “Yolanda” fled to the safety of government buildings in the town of Guiuan on the weekend as tropical depression”Agaton” flattened tents and ripped the roofing off other temporary shelters, officials said.

“The (new) strom is a reminder that more needs to be done.... for vulnerable displaced people,” Russell Geekie, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told Agence France Presse.

Guiuan, on Samar island, was the first area to be devastated when Yolanda hit on Nov. 8.

It left nearly 8,000 people dead or missing and more than four million others homeless across the central islands, officials said.

The government is building temporary housing while looking for safe relocation sites for survivors of coastal communities ravaged by giant waves unleashed by Yolanda, warning the rebuilding would take years.

A UN aid appeal for nearly $800 million last month for Yolanda relief is about 42 percent funded, but the component for shelters was “only a fifth funded,” Geekie said.

British aid group Oxfam also warned the temporary shelters given to Yolanda survivors were no match for the extreme weather in the Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, along with frequent earthquakes.

“In one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, it’s critical we quickly provide safe homes... for those continuing to live in dangerous and difficult locations,” its country director Justin Morgan said in a statement.

President Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma confirmed the damage to the tents and a government-built bunkhouse.

“They (occupants) will be accorded every assistance that is needed,” he told reporters.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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