August 22, 2012
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN-USA, email@example.com
“President Aquino, Stop Blaming the Poor For Their Plight!”—BAYAN-USA
Filipino-Americans Criticize Aquino Regime’s Insufficient Disaster Relief Effort and Anti-Poor Rhetoric
The aftermath of Typhoon Gener and a Southwest Monsoon (Habagat) that ravaged the Philippines in early August has left many Filipinos reminiscent of the disaster of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. Relief operations led by grassroots people’s organizations, including BAYAN-USA, have been activated and are underway around the world. Monetary donations have been sent directly to affiliated organizations in the Philippines that serve urban and rural poor communities, the most affected by the disaster, whose homes and crops have been damaged or lost in major floods. However, instead of also assisting these communities in rebuilding their lives, the Philippine government has targeted them in a blame game accusing them of being the root causes of the flooding disaster.
Aquino’s Anti-Poor Relief Strategy
The almost week-long rainfall from the typhoon and monsoon surpassed that of Typhoon Ondoy, leading to floods just as dangerous as in 2009. Kalikasan Green Partylist, a progressive environmental concerns partylist in the Philippines, explains that floods are solely caused by the amount of rainfall an area receives at any given time. Because rain fell steadily for several consecutive days, water basins were oversaturated, leading to major floods in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces in Luzon.
Despite this scientific explanation, President Benigno “NoyNoy” Aquino III made statements that mistakenly accused urban poor shanties built near waterways of being the major cause for floods. He reportedly ordered Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson to address the issue of informal settlers through any means, even if he must “blast” the urban poor out of such areas.
“The floods would have occurred just as they did whether or not informal settlers crowd near waterways,” said Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA. “Aquino is pointing the finger at the victims of the flood, while he should be taking responsibility for their conditions. His administration has only neglected the basic needs of the majority of the people. It is joblessness, poverty, a lack of sustainable housing projects, and shoddy urban planning that makes people desperately build homes wherever possible, even in the path of dangerous floods.”
Aquino has ordered Singson to relocate 125,000 families along Metro Manila waterways and an additional 700,000 around Laguna Bay. However, the president has not expressed any intention to relocate wealthy private entities, such as large malls, that also surround Metro Manila waterways.
“It is clear that the Aquino regime is framing the issue this way in order to justify making way for the implementation of privatization projects,” says Ellorin. “Just as the flooding has swept away thousands of homes, Aquino plans to do the same to the poor majority.”
Filipino organizers in BAYAN-USA are skeptical of how much relief this relocation plan will actually provide as the housing budget set aside for 2013 is insufficient to fund decent housing for the 195,000 families Aquino is targeting. Instead, more funds are allocated to paying back foreign debt and promoting failed poverty alleviation programs, such as Public Private Partnership Programs (PPP) and Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
Prioritizing Sustainable Programs for the Poor
People’s organizations around the world, including BAYAN-USA, are exposing the Philippine government’s deceptive and destructive rhetoric, which ultimately blames the victims and wipes away any accountability from the government’s ineffectiveness. “At this point, the government should have learned their lesson,” exclaims Ellorin. “The only way to prevent disasters like this from repeating is by allocating sufficient funding into basic social services, such as housing, jobs, health, education, and disaster preparedness.”
BAYAN USA is calling upon anyone interested in donating directly to the numerous victims of the massive flooding in the Philippines by making a donation to BALSA today: http://tinyurl.com/BALSAbayanihanrelief. The only way to achieve complete relief of the massive flooding is to activate our bayanihan-community effort- and giving spirit as the Philippines has been hit once again with the worst flooding since 2009.