Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Super Typhoon Yolanda - Revisiting its Victims

On Nov. 8, 2013, the Philippines again experienced a calamity of great magnitude. Super typhoon “Yolanda” made landfall and devastated most of Eastern Visayas and Palawan. Deemed by meteorologists around the world as the strongest storm on record with its maximum sustained winds of 315 kph, Yolanda flashed its fury and made its presence felt in about 600 coastal towns and 57 cities in Eastern Visayas.

Survivors told stories of babies being wrenched from their arms by raging waters, never to be seen again; of whole houses getting uprooted and washed into the maelstrom with wailing families inside; of village folk ensconced in temporary shelters being forced to flee again as even evacuation centers located farther inland were also overwhelmed by winds and flood waters.

President Benigno Aquino did what he deemed was right; mobilizing concerned government agencies. NGO's and the international communities joined the move with relief goods and monetary assistance coming along the way. The world comes to the rescue of the hapless victims and survivors. But what is this that I read that the same 'Yolanda' survivors are venting their ire on the President for failing to respond to their needs even after a year.

What really transpired during those 12 agonizing months for the typhoon victims? Let's take for example victims in Tacloban City, Leyte. President Aquino’s skip Tacloban City in the series of commemorative activities marking the first anniversary of Super typhoon 'Yolanda.'Instead he visited Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Why? because he was just avoiding a direct confrontation with the people who might not control their anger against him.

The people of Tacloban, led by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez were not expected to roll out the red carpet for the President. He doesn’t like the Romualdezes so he picked friendlier ground and went to Guiuan instead where he would be in the arms of his allies. It’s too bad that our public officials can’t set aside politics even temporarily for a tragedy of immense magnitude like Super Typhoon Yolanda.

In other developments that took 'Yolanda' victims ire is the irregularities concerned government agencies in delivering relief goods to the affected communities. It is inaccurate to say the government didn’t do its part; it also mobilized personnel on many fronts, from soldiers to social workers, to help in the rehabilitation and rebuilding. But the slow, turtle-paced actions Pnoy and his trusted men performed their duties. The master plan for rehabilitation and recovery was signed by the President only last Oct. 29, or nearly a full year after the disaster. Gosh! for months now, thousands of families still live in crumbling tents and bunkhouses! My goodness, this government is run my aging turtles.

The Commission on Audit itself has called out the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the warehouses filled with food packs that went to waste because of improper storage, and for the cash assistance that didn’t reach the survivors. Wow! Mr. President, "huwag kang tulog ng tulog sa pansitan". Perhaps, you don't have the political will to show compassion to those affected by 'Yolanda'. Wake up and come to your senses, Mr. President. If you want to please your "Bosses", go castigates your allies who are sleeping on their jobs. Show that you are a good and trusted captain of a ship you call "Tuwid na Daan". All is not loss, just do you act NOW!

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