YEN MAKABENTA: AQUINO IGNORES PEOPLE SURGE VISITING PALACE TO 'CASH A CHECK'

THERE should be no misreading of what the People Surge Alliance of Yolanda survivors were doing and were saying when they marched to Malacañang last Monday (February 17), seeking an audience with President Aquino.Like Martin Luther King and his civil rights marchers in their historic march to Washington on August 28, 1963, the People Surge marchers went to the palace of our people and came to our national capital to cash a check. The check is a promissory note to every Filipino by the Constitution that “The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people, and to promote full employment, provide adequate social services, and an improved quality of life for all.” The march was designed to collect on the sacred obligation of the government to do the right thing for all the typhoon survivors and their stricken communities Inexplicably, the President declined to meet with the People Surge marchers. Only three representatives of the group were allowed past the Palace gate. No official met with them. Only a clerk from the records office came out to receive their petition. “We thought the President would meet with us. Maybe he was afraid to face the survivors of Yolanda,” said Sister Edita Eslopor, chairperson of the 12,000-strong alliance.

ALSO: Aquino rejects proposed P40K aid for 'Yolanda' survivors

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday criticized victims of Super Typhoon "Yolanda" who are asking for financial assistance worth P40,000. Speaking to reporters after an event in Manila, the President said the amount requested won't sustain the long-term needs of the families affected by the typhoon, which wrought havoc in the Visayas and left over 6,000 people dead. "Ano ba ang magiging pangmatagalan na solusyon ‘yung 40,000 na 'yan? So 'yon hindi ko nakita," Aquino said at a televised interview with media. "Siyempre, madaling magmungkahi, 'Halika, sumama ka dito, meron kang 40,000.' So gaano katagal kaya nila mapapangtustos 'yon sa kanilang pamilya. The letter, which was reportedly signed by over 17,000 typhoon survivors, contained their immediate demands including the P40,000 cash relief, sustenance of food aid, and the scrapping of the 'No-Build Zone' policy implemented in some areas devastated by Yolanda. Aquino said he has yet to read the petition though he assured that he will try to address each demand contained in the letter.

ALSO: Aquino questions P40,000 financial relief sought by ‘Yolanda’ victims

The P40,000 in financial assistance requested by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” survivors
is too costly
for a short-term solution, President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday. Aquino said during an ambush interview in Manila, English translation: "How will the P40,000 be utilized for the long-term? That I do not see." "How long will that amount last to support their families? Will it be enough to reconstruct their house?" Aquino was responding to the statement from People Surge, a group of typhoon survivors. The group is asking the government for P40,000 in immediate financial relief per family, among other demands. "So we have 1.4 million affected families to be given P40,000 each, that will total P56 billion." He said such an amount was already around 10 percent of the government’s expenditure budget, not counting funds allocated for personnel services, maintenance, and operations. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman also said she is not amenable to the request. “Unawaan natin hindi naman po limitless ang pondo ng gobyerno,” she said. (Let us understand that the fund of the government is not limitless.)

EDITORIAL: Misplaced priorities

On the same day that Miss Tourism International visited the Palace, survivors of super typhoon Yolanda trooped to the Palace in hopes of personally handing him a petition for immediate relief. Sister Edita Eslopor, chairperson of the People Surge alliance of Yolanda survivors, said those hopes were not realized. Three representatives were allowed to enter the gates and a person from the Palace records office came out to receive their petition. “We were like criminals entering the Palace, with police escorts,” the Benedictine nun added. That Mr. Aquino would choose to meet with a young beauty queen and not an elderly nun representing the Yolanda victims speaks volumes about misplaced priorities and this President’s continuing denial of anything negative. Sister Edita also took Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to task for bragging about $6 million in aid from the UN Children’s Fund, in effect claiming credit where it is not due. “With or without the Aquino government, and perhaps even better without the government, UNICEF would still have rendered humanitarian assistance. Dinky Soliman is merely riding on the UN aid to cover up the government’s criminal negligence.” Sister Edita also expressed outrage that the Social Welfare Department was relying on the goodness of others to fulfill what is essentially the government’s responsibility. Perhaps Sister Edita was right, after all. Maybe the President is afraid to meet the typhoon survivors—with good reason.


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Aquino ignores People Surge visiting Palace to ‘cash a check’


YEN MAKABENTA

MANILA, FEBRUARY 24, 2014 (MANILA TIMES) by YEN MAKABENTA - THERE should be no misreading of what the People Surge Alliance of Yolanda survivors were doing and were saying when they marched to Malacañang last Monday (February 17), seeking an audience with President Aquino.

Like Martin Luther King and his civil rights marchers in their historic march to Washington on August 28, 1963, the People Surge marchers went to the palace of our people and came to our national capital to cash a check.

The check is a promissory note to every Filipino by the Constitution that “The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the people, and to promote full employment, provide adequate social services, and an improved quality of life for all.”
 


They wanted to put forward the demands of the storm-stricken people of Eastern Visayas but were denied audience by the Palace.

The march was designed to collect on the sacred obligation of the government to do the right thing for all the typhoon survivors and their stricken communities

Inexplicably, the President declined to meet with the People Surge marchers. Only three representatives of the group were allowed past the Palace gate. No official met with them. Only a clerk from the records office came out to receive their petition.

“We thought the President would meet with us. Maybe he was afraid to face the survivors of Yolanda,” said Sister Edita Eslopor, chairperson of the 12,000-strong alliance.

“They said in two hours we will know their response. But we still haven’t heard from them,” the Benedictine nun says.

The melancholy sight of the people of East Visayas having to march to Malacañang to secure official attention for their ravaged region and their urgent needs is devastating and shameful. It is especially shameful in light of the unprecedented outpouring of sympathy and assistance from nations and organizations from all over the the world into the country.

Top dignitaries and celebrities have journeyed to the country and have paid personal visits to Tacloban and met with the survivors. mobilization of the international assistance through the government has been sluggish and remains ineffective.

Government inaction is outrageous considering that Congress has already acted to appropriate the initial funds for recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and the government still has to come up with a coherent plan for recovery and reconstruction.


People Surge: 12,000 Yolanda survivors march against BS Aquino in Tacloban City

A crisis on top of the disaster

Had the President agreed to the meeting, he would have learned firsthand the true state of Tacloban and East Visayas today, 103 days after Super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan battered the region and its regional center, and took over 6,000 lives.

Had they been heard, People Surge would have spelled out for him the crisis that is rising on top of the natural and human disaster that happened on November 8.

This emerging crisis consists of the following:

First, the situation is bleak for the survivors and their communities. And the future is darkened by complex problems of financing and lack of basic utilities. The local government units in place are barely coping for now.

Second, there is urgent need for massive and focused intervention by the national government because the needs of survivors and their families are huge. A new humanitarian crisis could develop if government does not act with dispatch.

Third, People Surge is directly petitioning for the grant of a P40,000 assistance per family as an immediate support so they can rebuild their lives and their homes.

Fourth, Tacloban and most of East Visayas face a massive lack of decent housing.

As reported by the new York Times, Yolanda destroyed or severely damaged the homes of more than 4 million people – more than twice as many as the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, The Aquino government is faring badly in filling this housing need. It has moved to build bunkhouses but the bunkhouses were below international standards and were rejected by UN experts.

Fifth, in assigning tasks, the Administration assigned the Department of public works and highways to build the bunkhouses, and did not involve the housing agencies of the government. The lack of housing expertise has been a drag.

Up to now, many people are still living in tents.

Sixth, while international groups have been very effective in welfare and relief work, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been content with taking credit for the international effort.

An emerging city of the poor


The sun sets on the horizon on Saturday amid rows of of tents used as temporary shelters by survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City. The United Nations warned on February 15 that millions of survivors of the Philippines' deadliest typhoon were still without adequate shelter 100 days after the disaster. AFP/Ted Aljibe

The New York Times envisions a city of the poor rising in place of the emerging regional metropolitan center before Yolanda that was Tacloban City. The city is caught in a spiral of deprivation and decline that will be hard to break, given the damage wreaked by the typhoon.

Restoration of power and other basics has been slow. businesses are finding it difficult to recover. “without commerce, the city will continue to lose money — and talent.” Energy secretary Jericho petilla’s promise of power returning by December 24, 2013, has been moved to the end of March 2014.

The confusion leaves this city struggling to hold on to young and talented residents.

The flight of those most able to find opportunities elsewhere is leaving behind a city of the poor, including those left destitute by the typhoon.

Students have also left the city in droves. University of the Philippines Tacloban has lost one third of its students. A major computer school has lost students at the same rate.

If the exodus of people is not stemmed, Tacloban City could become a ghost metropolis in the future.

This is the major challenge to local leadership and the business sector today.
 


A woman looks out from the window of her temporary shelter in Tacloban City. One hundred days after Yolanda struck, millions remain without adequate shelter. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN MANILA TIMES

Build back sooner

The government reconstruction effort has adopted the slogan, “Build back better”. Yolanda survivors would be thankful if it said and meant instead:

“Build back sooner.”

President Aquino boasts that his administration “underpromises and overdelivers.” This really drives the people of Leyte and East Visayas nuts.

It’s true, he promised little at the start because he froze and ran away from the challenge.

As for delivery, his Social Welfare secretary simply claims credit for the work of foreign organizations like UNICEf.

Rehabilitation coordinator Panfilo Lacson (photo) candidly admits that he has finished only 10 percent of the coordination work that he’s supposed to do. So where’s the over-delivery in 10 percent accomplishment? In press releases?

What could jolt President Aquino into action is a planned class suit by People Surge against the government.

They say that a suit is necessary because the government can’t hear and won’t listen to all the pleas and the criticisms.

Nobody in government, not even its massive propaganda corps, has bothered to answer them.

A suit in court will at least force government to answer.

And then maybe, just maybe, the Supreme Court might consent to hear the case.

With the high court resurgent in cases involving public interest and public welfare, Yolanda victims and survivors will have a fighting chance.

They will be able to cash their check. yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

FROM PHILSTAR

Aquino rejects proposed P40K aid for 'Yolanda' survivors By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated February 19, 2014 - 4:06pm 0 293 googleplus0 0


PHOTO POSTED BY PHNO, FROM 'PEOPLE SURGE' FACEBOOK

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday criticized victims of Super Typhoon "Yolanda" who are asking for financial assistance worth P40,000.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Manila, the President said the amount requested won't sustain the long-term needs of the families affected by the typhoon, which wrought havoc in the Visayas and left over 6,000 people dead.

"Ano ba ang magiging pangmatagalan na solusyon ‘yung 40,000 na 'yan? So 'yon hindi ko nakita," Aquino said at a televised interview with media.

"Siyempre, madaling magmungkahi, 'Halika, sumama ka dito, meron kang 40,000.' So gaano katagal kaya nila mapapangtustos 'yon sa kanilang pamilya. Maitatayo kaya nila ‘yung pamamahay nila?" the President asked.

Earlier this week, a group of 'Yolanda' survivors called People Surge attempted to enter Malacañang to personally hand their petition letter to the President.

The letter, which was reportedly signed by over 17,000 typhoon survivors, contained their immediate demands including the P40,000 cash relief, sustenance of food aid, and the scrapping of the 'No-Build Zone' policy implemented in some areas devastated by Yolanda.

Aquino said he has yet to read the petition though he assured that he will try to address each demand contained in the letter.

The President also rejected the demand to scrap the "no-build zone" policy since this prevents residents from rebuilding houses near vulnerable areas.

“'Yan naman ang hinahabol nung "no-build zone" Ilayo ka kung saan, 'yung magkakaroon nitong mga waves brought about by the storm na kaya kang lunurin, kayang gibain 'yung mga istraktura mo," Aquino said.

He said the government is now working on a "complete solution" that would address the need for disaster-resilient communities.

Aquino said he plans to revisit areas affected by Yolanda and other disasters that hit the country last year.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino questions P40,000 financial relief sought by ‘Yolanda’ victims By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 2:21 pm | Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2014/02/aquino-021414-e1392791860996.jpg
President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The P40,000 in financial assistance requested by Super Typhoon “Yolanda” survivors is too costly for a short-term solution, President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday.

“Ano ba ang magiging pangmatagalan na solusyon ng P40,000 na iyan? So iyon hindi ko nakita,” Aquino said during an ambush interview in Manila.
(How will the P40,000 be utilized for the long-term? That I do not see.)

“Gaano katagal kaya nila maipapantustos iyon sa kanilang pamilya? Maitatayo kaya nila yung pamamahay nila?” he added.

(How long will that amount last to support their families? Will it be enough to reconstruct their house?)

Aquino was responding to the statement from People Surge, a group of typhoon survivors. The group is asking the government for P40,000 in immediate financial relief per family, among other demands.

“Kung tinataya 1.4 million ang affected families at (bibigyan ng) P40,000 each, lalabas po iyan P56 billion,” the President pointed out.
(So we have 1.4 million affected families to be given P40,000 each, that will total P56 billion.)

He said such as amount was already around 10 percent of the government’s expenditure budget, not counting funds allocated for personnel services, maintenance, and operations.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman also said she is not amenable to the request.

“Unawaan natin hindi naman po limitless ang pondo ng gobyerno,” she said.
(Let us understand that the fund of the government is not limitless.)

Soliman said it would also be difficult to justify such as amount, in terms of accounting.

“Alam po ninyo kung bibigyan ng outright cash na P40,000, isipin nyo po ang mga mamamamayan dito na nagmi-minimum wage. Baka isipin nila, ‘Bakit sila may P40,000? Kami kumakayod, hindi kami nakakakuha nyan,’” she added.
(If we give P40,000 outright, how about the residents here who are receiving minimum wage? They might think, ‘Why were they given P40,000? We work hard but we are not given the same assistance.’)

Nevertheless, the Secretary said the proposal is being studied. In the meantime, the Department of Social Welfare and Development continue to implement the conditional cash transfer program, especially in areas hit by the typhoon.

Last week, People Surge clarified that the amount was to support a family of six for two months. They said it was for relief and in no way a substitute to reconstruction efforts.

Both Aquino and Soliman, as well as Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, were at the Claro M. Recto High School on Monday morning to inspect the new mid-rise buildings for the urban poor.

Aquino will visit next week the provinces badly hit by calamities, coinciding with the 28th Edsa People Power celebrations.

FROM MANILA STANDARD

Misplaced priorities By Manila Standard Today | Feb. 19, 2014 at 12:01am

A PHOTOGRAPH released by the Malacañang Photo Bureau this week shows a smiling President Aquino shaking hands with a beaming Miss Tourism International, Angeli Dione Gomez, during a courtesy call at the Palace Monday. It is the type of social function that our bachelor President seems to enjoy, as he sets aside a few minutes for a photo op every time a Filipina wins a beauty pageant.


BEAUTY QUEEN’S COURTESY CALL – With a handshake, President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Ms. Tourism International 2013 Angeli Dione Gomez during a courtesy call at the Music Room of Malacañang on Feb. 17, 2014. (Richard V. Viñas) MANILA BULLETIN

The steady stream of beauty queens who have been to the Palace, in fact, has been such that the President, in response to a question from reporters, said he does not see himself as a lucky charm for prospective pageant winners.

On one occasion after a Filipina won an international beauty contest, the President’s spokesman even sent text messages to reporters saying that she was a fine example of the best of Filipino womanhood: intelligent, talented and imbued with compassion.

Sadly, compassion is a quality that seems to elude this President.

On the same day that Miss Tourism International visited the Palace, survivors of super typhoon Yolanda trooped to the Palace in hopes of personally handing him a petition for immediate relief. Sister Edita Eslopor, chairperson of the People Surge alliance of Yolanda survivors, said those hopes were not realized.

“We thought the President would meet with us. Maybe he was afraid to face the survivors of Yolanda,” she said.

Three representatives were allowed to enter the gates and a person from the Palace records office came out to receive their petition.

“We were like criminals entering the Palace, with police escorts,” the Benedictine nun added.

That Mr. Aquino would choose to meet with a young beauty queen and not an elderly nun representing the Yolanda victims speaks volumes about misplaced priorities and this President’s continuing denial of anything negative.

As far as we can tell, Miss Tourism International brought nothing but smiles to the Palace. Sister Edita, on the other hand, spoke of the Aquino administration’s criminal negligence in bringing relief and rehabilitation to the storm-battered Visayas, 100 days after the typhoon struck.

Sister Edita also took Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to task for bragging about $6 million in aid from the UN Children’s Fund, in effect claiming credit where it is not due.

“With or without the Aquino government, and perhaps even better without the government, UNICEF would still have rendered humanitarian assistance. Dinky Soliman is merely riding on the UN aid to cover up the government’s criminal negligence.”

Sister Edita also expressed outrage that the Social Welfare Department was relying on the goodness of others to fulfill what is essentially the government’s responsibility.

Perhaps Sister Edita was right, after all. Maybe the President is afraid to meet the typhoon survivors—with good reason.
 


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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