GOVT BLAMED FOR 7 STORM SURVIVORS' DEATH

AT least seven survivors of super typhoon Yolanda have died from exposure to heavy rains in two barangays in Leyte, a civic group said Friday. Jesus Cabias Jr., president of the Pinag-isang Lakas Para Bumangon group in Leyte, said the survivors from barangays Liwayway and Danao in McArthur town “died one by one seven days ago” because they did not have safe shelter during the downpour brought about by tropical depression Caloy. “When I and our parish priest went around Liwayway and Danao to check the condition of the people last Thursday, we found out there were seven people dead because of the rains,” he told the Manila Standard. He blamed the government’s failure to build homes for the residents of barangays Liwayway and Danao, four and a half months after Yolanda devastated Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013. “We have 275 homeless poor people here,” he said. Although some 20 hectares of farm land have already been cleared of debris, the Agriculture Department has not yet made good on its promise to distribute seeds to the farmers, he added. “Most of the typhoon survivors still do not have safer homes, and continue to live in unlivable conditions,” he said. “They are exposed to heat and rain.”

ALSO: Storm victim’s body left to rot on a tree

The body of a boy was dug up in this city almost five months after super typhoon “Yolanda” devastated the Eastern Visayas region, but the authorities just left the boy’s cadaver in a body bag literally hanging from a tree branch for two weeks. The body was found in San Jose district’s Barangay Cogon by a canine search team on March 11 in a shallow grave near an old chapel. Barangay Cogon residents said no one in the village could identify the boy so he could not have been a resident of the barangay, but residents decided to temporarily bury the boy in the grounds of the village’s chapel. Under current arrangements, bodies of Yolanda fatalities are usually sought with canine teams and dug up by a search team. Crime scene investigators will then take photographs and DNA samples from the cadaver for possible identification. After processing, the Bureau of Fire Protection is supposed to retrieve bodies for burial at one of the mass grave sites in the city. But in the case of the body dug up in Barangay Cogon, the BFP never came for the body although village leaders repeatedly told them over a period of two weeks about the body abandoned in their barangay. “The stench of the corpse that they dug up was already horrid and everyone could smell it because they hung it on a fallen tree by the road side,” one resident said in the vernacular after asking not to be identified. “Residents are already afraid of catching disease so we are pleading with the authorities to please get the corpse,” the resident added. Village chief Arlie Go-Perez said she repeatedly told the BFP about the body and it took them two weeks to return and get the body. When asked about the incident, the local police’s crime scene investigators disavowed knowledge of the body that was dug up last March 11 and they claimed that that was the first time they heard about the matter. Later in the day, however, the authorities finally retrieved the body and buried it in a mass grave in Barangay Suhi. The incident has become common in the city, where 2,669 are known to have died, excluding the deaths from nearby towns and provinces. More than half of the Tacloban number come from the San Jose district.

EDITORIAL: Aid after Yolanda, beyond explanation

More than four months after killer typhoon “Yolanda” hit the country, most of the survivors of the disaster in the Visayas continued with their uncertain lives, with the government seemingly oblivious of their fate. A testament to this are the rotting piles of relief goods in the disaster areas that was inconceivable, considering the level of hunger among the survivors who continue to hold out hope for government assistance. Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman has direct responsibility over the efficient distribution of the relief items the same way that she is in charge of allocation of some P65 billion worth of dole outs under the conditional cash transfer scheme.
Soliman, to deflect the criticisms over the spoiled items in Palo, Leyte which clearly were placed in Department of Social Welfare and Development, blamed local government officials, as is the practice of Noynoy, saying the goods were direct donations to the local government of Leyte which did not pass through the DSWD. In its effort to divert the issue against Soliman, the Palace issued a spin that Noynoy was upset by the report on the spoiled relief items and is asking the DSWD to investigate. This means complete absolution for Dinky as she is investigating herself. How dumb does Malacañang think Filipinos, and more especially, the Leyteños, are? Dinky is even being assailed for announcing that the DSWD will stop providing relief assistance to the crisis areas to pave the way for disaster czar Ping Lacson’s reconstruction phase as if relief and reconstruction will present a conflicting situation. It goes beyond imagining what Dinky intends to do with the still constant flow of donations to the typhoon victims that was the result of the disaster being sounded out to the world through mainly the United Nations. Hopefully these donated goods still reach their intended beneficiaries and not end up as assistance for another looming disaster in 2016 which is the likely the landslide loss of the anointed of Noynoy.
Dinky should own up to the shameful situation of Filipinos in hunger and want amid the mountain of rotting relief goods.
The least she can do is resign.

ALSO: Gov’t vows more funds for Mindanao

The government has pledged to allocate more funds to Mindanao to ensure better social services and more development projects for its people now that lasting peace is at hand with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the administration is set to create a national budget that would be more responsive to the needs of communities in areas included in the Bangsamoro, or those under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). “This way, we can ensure that the progress we are making will benefit the Bangsamoro in a sure and sustainable way,” Abad said in a statement Friday. He said Bangsamoro communities would finally gain wider access to key social and economic services, including public education, healthcare and infrastructure development in the region. He said lasting peace would usher in progress and transform Bangsamoro communities into tourism and investment hubs. “It’s especially important to note the positive impact of the peace pact not just on the ARMM, but also on the rest of the Philippines. With the assurance of peace and security in the country, we can expect increased confidence from foreign investors keen on doing business in the Philippines,” Abad pointed out. He said the signing of the peace pact between the government and the MILF was a remarkable story of success for the Filipino people, considering that peace had long been elusive to many impoverished Bangsamoro communities. “The peace agreement between the government and the Bangsamoro will shape the country’s strategy for ensuring lasting peace, as well as improve socio-economic development in the ARMM,” he said.

ALSO: Memorial for Yolanda victims pushed

Lawmakers sought yesterday the construction in Tacloban City of a memorial for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, a reminder to the country’s leaders and people to work towards a disaster-resilient nation. Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list filed House Bill 4100, which shall be known as the “Yolanda Memorial Act of 2014” and provides that the marker shall be constructed in Tacloban City under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways in coordination with local government units (LGUs). The bill also provides that a message shall be inscribed onto the base of the memorial and shall read: “In memory of the thousands of victims of Yolanda. That calamities have been transformed into a monstrosity due to climate change. That the leaders of this country must employ its utmost knowledge and care for the people. To work for a disaster-resilient nation. That appropriate, decisive and climate-adaptive policies must be enforced. To help protect the lives and livelihood of the people and mitigate the effects of disasters. To prevent such loss when another calamity as Yolanda should ever come our way again. May this never happen again.” The bill, now pending at the House committee on public works and highways chaired by Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, further provides that the inscription may be translated into Filipino or Waray, or both, according to the discretion of the LGUs. As of February, the total death toll for all Yolanda-ravaged regions has reached 6,201, with 28,626 people injured and 1,785 still missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).


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Govt blamed for storm survivors’ death


Protest vs. maggots. Members and supporters of the People’s Surge movement portray Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman as a maggot during a rally to protest the announced end to the distribution of relief goods, even as some food packages were found rotting in government custody. MANNY PALMERO

MANILA, MARCH 31, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) By Rio N. Araja, Ronald O. Reyes - AT least seven survivors of super typhoon Yolanda have died from exposure to heavy rains in two barangays in Leyte, a civic group said Friday.

Jesus Cabias Jr., president of the Pinag-isang Lakas Para Bumangon group in Leyte, said the survivors from barangays Liwayway and Danao in McArthur town “died one by one seven days ago” because they did not have safe shelter during the downpour brought about by tropical depression Caloy.

“When I and our parish priest went around Liwayway and Danao to check the condition of the people last Thursday, we found out there were seven people dead because of the rains,” he told the Manila Standard.

He blamed the government’s failure to build homes for the residents of barangays Liwayway and Danao, four and a half months after Yolanda devastated Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.

“We have 275 homeless poor people here,” he said.

Although some 20 hectares of farm land have already been cleared of debris, the Agriculture Department has not yet made good on its promise to distribute seeds to the farmers, he added.

“Most of the typhoon survivors still do not have safer homes, and continue to live in unlivable conditions,” he said. “They are exposed to heat and rain.”

Sister Edita Eslopor, a Benedictine nun and leader of the 12,000-strong People Surge alliance of Yolanda survivors, blamed the deaths on the government’s inability to address joblessness, malnutrition, lack of basic services and the slum-like shelters.

She called on Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman to resign for her inefficiency in distributing aid to typhoon survivors, including passing out rotten food aid.

Soliman, on her department’s website, said she was willing to meet with the typhoon survivors again, but People Surge rejected her offer.

Instead, the typhoon survivors appealed to the public and all Filipinos overses to join their call for a global mass movement on April 8 to commemorate the fifth month since the super typhoon struck Eastern Visayas and to protest the “criminal negligence” of the government toward the victims.

“We would like to ask the support of all Filipino people to help us awaken Malacanang Palace and all concerned government agencies for them to hear our plight and respond to our demands. We cannot do it by ourselves alone. But if we are many, united and determined, like what you’ve done when you helped us during the height of typhoon Yolanda, then we can do it,” said Eslopor in an open letter.

“We want to get done with relief. We are not beggars, we are victims. But until today the government is not giving us the opportunity to have stable, permanent and decent jobs and livelihood,” she said.

Worse, the victims were suffering from the government’s criminal negligence, Eslopor said.

The alliance reiterated its demand for P40,000 in immediate cash assistance for each survivor family.

Despite the calls to extend relief operations, Soliman has said that the distribution of food aid will end on March 31.

“President Aquino ignored the P40,000 cash assistance we requested, but where are the billions which are intended for the victims? Can we trust the rehabilitation program of Aquino and [rehabilitation czar Panfilo] Lacson?” Eslopor said.

She criticized the government for dividing the rehabilitation areas into zones to be developed by businessmen who supported the administration, such as Manny Pangilinan, Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, and the Aboitiz Group.

“They allocated 80 percent of the rehabilitation fund to infrastructure when the livelihood of the people in Eastern Visayas depends largely on agriculture,” she added.

The nun also hit the governments no-build zone, which prevents residents from rebuilding their homes near the shore.

“They said they are after our welfare and safety, but why is it that big businessmen and capitalists are allowed to build structures to the areas where we lost our loved ones? Why is it that big mining and logging persisted in remote areas hit by typhoon Yolanda?” she said.

Eslopor said while victims are asking for food, the government is wasting it and burying it in dumpsites or in the sea, in the case of Ormoc City.

“The government even threatened those who joined protest rallies, saying that they will not be getting relief anymore,” said Eslopor.

Storm victim’s body left to rot on a tree By Marvin T. Modelo | Mar. 25, 2014 at 12:01am


Literally left hanging. The body of an unidentified boy who was killed by super typhoon “Yolanda” was left hanging from a tree branch for two weeks. MARVIN MODELO

TACLOBAN CITY—The body of a boy was dug up in this city almost five months after super typhoon “Yolanda” devastated the Eastern Visayas region, but the authorities just left the boy’s cadaver in a body bag literally hanging from a tree branch for two weeks.

The body was found in San Jose district’s Barangay Cogon by a canine search team on March 11 in a shallow grave near an old chapel.

Barangay Cogon residents said no one in the village could identify the boy so he could not have been a resident of the barangay, but residents decided to temporarily bury the boy in the grounds of the village’s chapel.

Under current arrangements, bodies of Yolanda fatalities are usually sought with canine teams and dug up by a search team. Crime scene investigators will then take photographs and DNA samples from the cadaver for possible identification.

After processing, the Bureau of Fire Protection is supposed to retrieve bodies for burial at one of the mass grave sites in the city.

But in the case of the body dug up in Barangay Cogon, the BFP never came for the body although village leaders repeatedly told them over a period of two weeks about the body abandoned in their barangay.

“The stench of the corpse that they dug up was already horrid and everyone could smell it because they hung it on a fallen tree by the road side,” one resident said in the vernacular after asking not to be identified.

“Residents are already afraid of catching disease so we are pleading with the authorities to please get the corpse,” the resident added.

Village chief Arlie Go-Perez said she repeatedly told the BFP about the body and it took them two weeks to return and get the body.

When asked about the incident, the local police’s crime scene investigators disavowed knowledge of the body that was dug up last March 11 and they claimed that that was the first time they heard about the matter.

Later in the day, however, the authorities finally retrieved the body and buried it in a mass grave in Barangay Suhi.

The incident has become common in the city, where 2,669 are known to have died, excluding the deaths from nearby towns and provinces. More than half of the Tacloban number come from the San Jose district.

The government’s confirmed death toll is at 6,268 with 1,785 still missing, but the data has not been updated for a month and information on the dead or the missing cannot be found on the website of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The NDRRMC could not explain why the fatality figure has not been updated, although its spokesman Reynaldo Balido confirmed that bodies were still being found in Tacloban four months after the diaster.

“Sometimes they find two or three a day, then there are days where they find none,” Balido earlier told a news wire agency.

United Nations undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs herself was shocked that bodies were still turning up when she visited the city last month.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Beyond explanation
Written by Tribune Editorial Saturday, 29 March 2014 00:00 DAILY TRIBUNE

More than four months after killer typhoon “Yolanda” hit the country, most of the survivors of the disaster in the Visayas continued with their uncertain lives, with the government seemingly oblivious of their fate.

A testament to this are the rotting piles of relief goods in the disaster areas that was inconceivable, considering the level of hunger among the survivors who continue to hold out hope for government assistance.

Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman has direct responsibility over the efficient distribution of the relief items the same way that she is in charge of allocation of some P65 billion worth of dole outs under the conditional cash transfer scheme.

Soliman, to deflect the criticisms over the spoiled items in Palo, Leyte which clearly were placed in Department of Social Welfare and Development, blamed local government officials, as is the practice of Noynoy, saying the goods were direct donations to the local government of Leyte which did not pass through the DSWD.

In its effort to divert the issue against Soliman, the Palace issued a spin that Noynoy was upset by the report on the spoiled relief items and is asking the DSWD to investigate.

This means complete absolution for Dinky as she is investigating herself. How dumb does Malacañang think Filipinos, and more especially, the Leyteños, are?

Again the scenario was that Dinky was immaculate clean of blame while the local government officials are thoroughly inefficient and have their own agenda being advanced in soliciting relief good without passing through the DSWD.

There were even suggestions that the relief goods were intentionally withheld to rot and placed in DSWD bags as part of a demolition job against Dinky and Noynoy.

The Palace in trying to justify the obvious inefficiency of its allies, completely ignored the current state of the local government units in the disaster where they barely have the resources to provide the daily services to the public, much less think of elaborate ways to smear Dinky and Noynoy.

The mountain of bags of rotting goods also proves there is no dearth in donations to the victims of typhoons only that the DSWD, or based on its claims the local government units, are goofing up its distribution and even hoarding the imported goods while distributing the expired donations from earlier calamities. That’s how heartless Soliman and her staff are.

The DSWD, however, in making the assertion that the local government officials should be blamed for the abominable wastage only exposes its failure to fully coordinate with local officials.

Based on Dinky’s version in her attempt to explain away the existence of the rotten relief goods, the DSWD has its own supply system different from those of the local government units.

That created an image of the DSWD competing against local government officials in the relief efforts resulting in the inefficient and wasteful distribution of goods.

The situation, even now several months after the disaster, was that some of the disaster-stricken areas have relief overflows while in most of the remote parts of the Visayas region hit by the typhoon residents continue to fend for themselves.

Dinky is even being assailed for announcing that the DSWD will stop providing relief assistance to the crisis areas to pave the way for disaster czar Ping Lacson’s reconstruction phase as if relief and reconstruction will present a conflicting situation.

It goes beyond imagining what Dinky intends to do with the still constant flow of donations to the typhoon victims that was the result of the disaster being sounded out to the world through mainly the United Nations.

Hopefully these donated goods still reach their intended beneficiaries and not end up as assistance for another looming disaster in 2016 which is the likely the landslide loss of the anointed of Noynoy.

Dinky should own up to the shameful situation of Filipinos in hunger and want amid the mountain of rotting relief goods.
The least she can do is resign.

FROM PHILSTAR

Gov’t vows more funds for Mindanao (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 30, 2014 - 12:00am 1 60 googleplus1 0

MANILA, Philippines - The government has pledged to allocate more funds to Mindanao to ensure better social services and more development projects for its people now that lasting peace is at hand with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the administration is set to create a national budget that would be more responsive to the needs of communities in areas included in the Bangsamoro, or those under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“This way, we can ensure that the progress we are making will benefit the Bangsamoro in a sure and sustainable way,” Abad said in a statement Friday.

He said Bangsamoro communities would finally gain wider access to key social and economic services, including public education, healthcare and infrastructure development in the region.

He said lasting peace would usher in progress and transform Bangsamoro communities into tourism and investment hubs.

“It’s especially important to note the positive impact of the peace pact not just on the ARMM, but also on the rest of the Philippines. With the assurance of peace and security in the country, we can expect increased confidence from foreign investors keen on doing business in the Philippines,” Abad pointed out.

He said the signing of the peace pact between the government and the MILF was a remarkable story of success for the Filipino people, considering that peace had long been elusive to many impoverished Bangsamoro communities.

“The peace agreement between the government and the Bangsamoro will shape the country’s strategy for ensuring lasting peace, as well as improve socio-economic development in the ARMM,” he said.

WB lauds accord

The World Bank Group has joined the global community in congratulating the Philippines and the MILF for the signing of the CAB.

The WB, along with development partners and other stakeholders, has been supporting peace and inclusive growth in Mindanao.

“We shall continue to scale up efforts to support programs that will broker sustainable peace and development in the Bangsamoro and Mindanao as a whole,” the WB said.

In his speech during the signing ceremony on Thursday, President Aquino thanked foreign governments and other partners for helping Mindanao develop.

He also lauded ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman for demonstrating what could be achieved through good leadership.

Under Hataman, ghost projects were avoided because funds go directly to agencies and not to local officials’ “farm-to-pocket roads.”

The President said that while “we shared the view that the system as presently crafted is susceptible to abuse by the wrong leaders,” Hataman worked for “true transformation that lends itself to permanence.”

“And now, after all his achievements, he willingly steps aside. That is the sort of leader we need: focused on the other, and not on himself,” Aquino said.

Enticing foreign investors

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday it will work closely with other government agencies to encourage foreign investors to do business in Mindanao.

“Attracting investments to Mindanao is certainly something the DFA, in coordination with other agencies like DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), should plan next and do,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message to The STAR.

The region’s economy has remained dormant despite its rich resources due to instability and security problem with armed groups.

Jose said many countries have expressed interest to invest in Mindanao.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Mindanao has large tracts of agricultural land that can be used by multinational companies for commercial farming.

“Companies can be confident of profits since the vastness of the region ensures economies of scale and a steady supply of workers and investors,” he said.

The region is known for its top agricultural exports such as refined coconut oil, banana and pineapple.

Organic rice is now being grown in Cotabato and is exported to Dubai. In Bukidnon, peking duck is being raised for export.

“If we have the right technology, the right government intervention, people in Mindanao can embrace peaceful means of livelihood, especially in the agriculture sector,” Alcala said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will be discussing with Malacañang farm-based livelihood initiatives in Mindanao.

The agriculture-based interventions in former war-torn Bangsamoro areas will be folded in the Sajahatra Bangsamoro program, the administration’s master plan aimed at improving the quality of life in MILF communities.

These include the construction of farm-to-market roads and small-scale irrigation systems among other farm-related assistance.

The DA will be laying down P212.9 million in initial support for Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao and Socsksargen as well as the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Sibugay, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Davao Oriental, and North Cotabato.

Protect gains from peace pact

Meanwhile, lawmakers yesterday called for vigilance in protecting the gains from the forging of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the signing of the CAB boosts the security and economic prospects of Mindanao. – Aurea Calica, Helen Flores, Czeriza Valencia, Paolo Romero, Roel Pareño

Memorial for Yolanda victims pushed By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 30, 2014 - 12:00am 3 16 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers sought yesterday the construction in Tacloban City of a memorial for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, a reminder to the country’s leaders and people to work towards a disaster-resilient nation.

Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list filed House Bill 4100, which shall be known as the “Yolanda Memorial Act of 2014” and provides that the marker shall be constructed in Tacloban City under the supervision of the Department of Public Works and Highways in coordination with local government units (LGUs).

The bill also provides that a message shall be inscribed onto the base of the memorial and shall read:

“In memory of the thousands of victims of Yolanda. That calamities have been transformed into a monstrosity due to climate change. That the leaders of this country must employ its utmost knowledge and care for the people. To work for a disaster-resilient nation. That appropriate, decisive and climate-adaptive policies must be enforced. To help protect the lives and livelihood of the people and mitigate the effects of disasters. To prevent such loss when another calamity as Yolanda should ever come our way again. May this never happen again.”

The bill, now pending at the House committee on public works and highways chaired by Benguet Rep. Ronald Cosalan, further provides that the inscription may be translated into Filipino or Waray, or both, according to the discretion of the LGUs.

As of February, the total death toll for all Yolanda-ravaged regions has reached 6,201, with 28,626 people injured and 1,785 still missing, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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