Yolanda victims not satisfied with Govt action
TACLOBAN CITY – Anger continued to seethe among victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” here as some 10,000 survivors held a night of remembrance on Friday that culminated in a march around the city on Saturday.
Survivors from different towns in Samar and Leyte, including Tacloban, held the night of remembrance near the administration building of the Eastern Visayas State University where they assailed the Aquino administration for claiming that disaster victims were satisfied with government action.
The protest action, called People Surge, started on Friday evening when aid groups organized a memorial that can serve as an outlet for grievances and serve as a support group to survivors.
The group later swelled as it marched around the city to demand that the government do something about their plight.
But Malacañang Palace was unfazed by the criticism with Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte saying in a radio interview that the government will continue with what it has been doing.
“Should we receive any suggestions or constructive criticism, we take that in stride and incorporate that in our plans,” Valte said, adding that the President has instructed Cabinet members to sustain their efforts despite the growing criticism.
Presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson also visited nearby Tanauan town and other towns in Samar on Saturday and spoke with local officials after he met with local and foreign experts to discuss rehabilitation plans in a forum in Makati City on Friday.
Foreign and local groups have also started to re-visit Tacloban and other areas stricken by the typhoon that has so far claimed more than 6,200 lives with more than a thousand others missing.
Last week, United States Senator Marco Rubio and Ambassador Philip Goldberg went to Tacloban to determine what assiatnce the US can further extend to the victims.
On Saturday, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa said Robert Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, will also arrive on Monday to take a look at the progress of the Catholic Church’s ongoing recovery efforts.
“He will visit some areas worst hit by the typhoon the whole day,” said De Villa, who is also a Cor Unum consultant.
Sarah is also scheduled to speak before the CBCP about the Church’s recovery work during the episcopal group’s ongoing plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XIII Center in Manila.
“I think his talk has something to do with the efforts of the Church to address the situation in Yolanda hit areas,” said CBCP secretary general Father Marvin Mejia.
In Tacloban, survivors thanked the international community for its assistance even as it scored the Philippine government for the pace of its rehabilitation measures.
“Government? What government? We did not receive any help from them here in Tacloban. The only aid that arrives are from the international institutions,” said Rowena Berio of Barangay 52 in the city’s Magallanes district.
“Who is this administration fooling? The people of Eastern Visayas are now enraged because of the results of the [Social Weather Stations] survey,” said Jun Berino, secretary general of the regional chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.
“The survey result is a blatant lie,” he said, referring to the SWS survey, conducted from Dec. 11 to 16, saying President Benigno Simeon Aquino III got a “very good” satisfaction rating from the very areas devastated by Yolanda and the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol.
“The SWS survey was obviously commissioned by Malacañang. It is a lousy attempt to influence public opinion and it obviously failed,” Berino added.
“The survey is very delusional. The Aquino government must be very desperate that it has now started to exhaust all possible mediums to sanitize what is really happening in areas devastated by Yolanda,” Berino said.
Berino challenged locals and foreigners to “go to the interior villages, evacuation centers, coastal communities, rural and urban schools and mass grave of Yolanda victims” and see for themselves how the victims are “so thirsty for help, may it be food, cash or medical assistance.”
Another victim, Delia Dacuital, 46, who has been staying at the evacuation center at the Tacloban Astrodome for more than two months already, demanded that the government give her family proper shelter and a job with adequate salary.
“The typhoon victims are really exasperated at the government. They find the government inutile,” added Berino, adding that “typhoon victims have to endure the wretched conditions in the evacuation centers.”
While many of bunkhouses that are supposed to serve as temporary housing are mostly empty because some unidentified government official is waiting for the facilities’ official launching.
“The bunkhouses only serve as a photo-op for Aquino and his minions to show that they are doing something. Actually, not a single family has been relocated to these overpriced units. Thousands of families in Tacloban City alone do not know where to go,” Berino added.