UN Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani:
Significant challenges for IDPs [internally displaced persons]remain to be resolved in areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.
Some people have found themselves having to relocate two or more times since their initial displacement. 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, particularly for women and girls who face threats including sexual abuse and early pregnancy, as well as failing to provide conditions of privacy and dignity. IDPs in various areas pointed to a lack of adequate police presence which contributes to the overall feelings of increased insecurity given the nature of their shelter and conditions.
Regrettably some families seem to have fallen through the protection safety net and remain living in substandard shelters in areas designated as “no-build” or “hazardous” zones due to the likelihood of future hazards. I was informed by IDPs and their representatives that, in both temporary and permanent housing, the provision of water, adequate sanitation and electricity remain seriously problematic.
A common concern expressed to me was the need to increase the level of consultation and information flow to IDPs to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard and included in future planning and their rights respected.
While the Government is to be commended in terms of its immediate responses, its attention to ensuring sustainable durable solutions for IDPs remains inadequate to-date. I believe 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. I was concerned to learn that funding shortfalls and political challenges, including inadequate cooperation between national and local governments, are delaying processes towards achieving durable solutions.
While infrastructure and public projects such as the building of flood defences in Tacloban are necessary and legitimate, the highest priority must continue to be given to securing durable housing that meet required standards and livelihood solutions for affected communities.
Regrettably it appears that funding and attention to IDPs is waning. The national Government, together with its local Government partners must ensure that it follows through on the assistance that it has provided to-date to ensure that it truly meets the needs and rights of all those displaced.— United Nations Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani after July 21-31 visit
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Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr:
We assure the United Nations that the determination to complete the work of rehabilitation will be intensified further, to ensure that all who lost their homes in Typhoon Yolanda shall be moved to permanent and decent human settlements far from the hazard zones they came from. It is also our goal to help them get ample livelihoods and jobs in their rise from calamity. …
The government remains focused on providing ample assistance to internally displaced persons, particularly in building permanent, safe and decent housing. … In the 2016 budget, there are additional funds to sustain the rehabilitation of communities severely affected by calamities like Supertyphoon Yolanda, as well as incidents in Zamboanga and Cotabato.— Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., translated from Filipino
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The long exchange quoted above between UN Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani and Secretary Sonny Coloma, cannot but bring tears to those who care for our fellow Filipinos, the avowed “bosses” of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
One year and nine months since the November 2013 catastrophe that was Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan by its international name), the most basic and essential relief of safe, decent shelter remains undone.
At his last State of the Nation Address, Aquino won applause for videos of people helped by such programs as Conditional Cash Transfer and K-12 basic education. But any upliftment over those beneficiaries are dashed to the ground by the unmitigated hardships of Yolanda’s victims, who are still exposed to storm hazards, and now also face crime, sexual abuse, indignity, and invasion of privacy.
For all the SONA boasting about P1.5 trillion in unprecedented tax revenues, “funding and attention to IDPs is waning,” as Beyani reported. and “in both temporary and permanent housing, the provision of water, adequate sanitation and electricity remain seriously problematic.”
Aquino funneled tens of billions of pesos in pork to senators and congressmen for ousting impeachable officials he disliked, then juggled P157 billion under his unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program. Yet he could not allot enough money for dignified housing and basic services for Yolanda-hit communities.
And though Aquino constantly calls the people his “bosses,” in fact, his government isn’t listening to Yolanda’s IDPs. Beyani cited “the need to increase the level of consultation and information flow to IDPs to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard.” The “bosses” have no “boses.”
What’s worse, the political rivalry seems to bedevil recovery efforts yet again, after it delayed the national government’s assistance for inundated and decimated Tacloban back in 2013 (remember Secretary Mar Roxas’s remark about Aquino-Romualdez animosity?). Said the U.N. rapporteur: “I was concerned to learn that funding shortfalls and political challenges, including inadequate cooperation between national and local governments, are delaying processes towards achieving durable solutions.”
And how does Aquino’s chief mouthpiece respond to the dismal report from the world’s leading aggrupation of nations? Cheap talk with nil action.
Secretary Coloma mouthed off on the government’s purported “determination” to help Yolanda victims, especially with housing. Yet not a word about what’s actually been done, or what funding is provided or earmarked. He promised money in next year’s budget, but didn’t say how much was available now for Taclobanons and other distressed Visayans?
After the above-quoted exchange between the UN rapporteur and Aquino’s raconteur, one does not have to root for Vice-President Jejomar Binay to agree with his view that the Aquino regime is “manhid” (insensitive) and “palpak” (incompetent).
And we still have eleven months of this regime. God help Aquino’s suffering “bosses.”