YOU hear this often enough, whenever there’s bad news about the Haiyan/Yolanda victims in Tacloban. “If only PNoy, Mar, et al. had cared, this would not have happened.”
The latest bad news is “Mom who had lost her baby to Yolanda loses another due to poor bunkhouse condition.”
This is from People Surge [<email@example.com>] the Tacloban-based “broad alliance of organizations and individuals joined together in the common goal of helping the victims of super typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan. It constitutes various entities and volunteers from the religious sector, academe, workers and peasants, urban and rural poor, professionals, lawyers, small entrepreneurs and conscientious public servants.”
People Surge “believes that natural disasters such as super typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan may be inevitable, but people’s lives can be spared if the government takes adequate preparedness and prompt action in the face of natural calamities. Countless lives have been lost in Yolanda’s wake and damages to agriculture, public and private properties cost billions of pesos. The devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda may have been horrific, but more horrendous is the Noynoy Aquino government’s gross negligence in looking after the welfare of the Filipino people.”
The story, dated October 8, is about the baby and Gina Supang, “a Yolanda survivor and a dweller at the IPI bunkhouse in Tacloban City. She lost a child during the onslaught of Yolanda. Staying at the bunkhouse for more than six months, she lost another child, her 8-month old baby who died of pneumonia.
Deadly water-borne diseases and extreme heat
A number of residents living in the bunkhouses in Tacloban were reported to have suffered from water-borne diseases and conditions brought about by extreme heat. According to a documentation from a People Surge chapter in Tacloban City, the residents usually suffer from colds, fever and other illnesses caused by poor bunkhouse condition where ventilation is bad and there is no adequate supply of water for everyone. This has resulted, so far, [in]the death of two residents of IPI bunkhouse in Tacloban City – one is an 8-month old baby who died of pneumonia and the other one is an old man who died from heatstroke.
“The IPI bunkhouse in Tacloban City originally shelter[ed]555 internally displaced families but as of September 2015 – after almost two years since ‘Yolanda’ – just a hundred families have been transferred to permanent shelters built by the National Housing Authority (NHA). In another bunkhouse at Sagkahan District, all the 316 families are yet to be relocated to promised permanent resettlement.
The story quotes People Surge spokesperson Marissa Cabaljao, saying, “While we oppose the forced displacement of storm victims living along declared No-dwelling zones (NDZ) and in areas targeted for business, Yolanda survivors who are still living in bunkhouses must be given prompt and immediate attention. Where are the permanent shelters?”
“The declared No Dwelling Zone (NDZ) areas in Tacloban still host some 10,000 families. Tens of thousands more await on-site shelter repair/reconstruction assistance or appropriate resettlement. In June 2015, the city government targeted 12,345 permanent housing units but only 342 units have been completed; only 281 of which were occupied.
Opting to return to their old communities
“A study of People Surge on bunkhouses indicate that ‘those who have agreed to move to this Tacloban North New Settlement Site are meanwhile burdened with lack of access to water, and lack of livelihood and other social services. Some of them have opted to return to their previous communities in NDZs and brave recurrent threats of demolition and displacements.’ “
When we (The Times and its columnists) first voiced the people’s anger over the incompetence and laggardness of the Aquino administration in attending to the needs of Haiyan/Yolanda victims, BS Aquino administration publicists heaped insults on us. Finally, even former senator Ping Lacson, who had accepted the position of BS Aquino’s “Rehabilitation Czar” but resigned later in frustration, told the truth and criticized Aquino and his men for inefficiency and unwillingness to release the money needed for faster and more effective rehabilitation work.
Today, international bodies–which tended to uphold Aquino’s false and hypocritical claims–have joined The Manila Times, our columnists, OXFAM and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour who early on saw how badly Aquino and his people were treating Tacloban, its people and the Yolanda victims.
Perhaps, they too will now see that it is the Aquino regime’s criminal negligence and incompetence that caused immense suffering and unnecessary deaths, like that of Gina Supang’s 8-month old baby.