Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
The worldwide outpouring of aid and support for the over 1.8 million victims of Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) in the Philippines this week leaves Filipinos in the United States reeling with anger in response to the Arroyo government’s utter ineptitude in providing adequate disaster relief.
This anger towards the Arroyo administration is justifiable for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which are the Philippine government’s evident corruption of billions in national disaster funds in order to fatten up the Presidential international travel budget and subsequent insistence that donations coming from abroad be channeled through government agencies.
But in the case of Ondoy, the Arroyo government’s hands have extended past the budget purse-strings and into crafting disaster-prone policies as well.
Not Just a Natural Disaster
The vast, heavy floods that swept through Metro-Manila devastating over 319,811 families and killing at least 240 people slammed tons of pressure that left properties in ruins. But contrary to claims of Malacanang, these killer floods did not come solely from unpredictable heavy rainfall and winds, but from deadly landslides originating from the neighboring provinces.
For years, the Philippine government has denied links between mining and logging activity and landslides in order to protect the investments of multi-national corporations (MNC) in the Philippines. But other mining authorities, such as the British Columbia Geological Survey Branch, admit to a direct link between heavy mechanical activity launched by foreign corporations in resource-rich countries like the Philippines and the weakening of bedrock along slopes that can result to slope failure and eventually a fatal landslide.
In addition to ensuring nothing less than maximum devastation when disasters like Ondoy strike, irregular warming of the Earth’s surface caused by greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from dense MNC activity also contribute to the altering of regional climate patterns, such as the generation of typhoons.
While illegal mining and logging continue throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration, the Arroyo clique relentlessly campaigns for changes to the 1987 Philippine Constitution that would allow 100% foreign ownership of Philippine territory. Intensified foreign mining, logging, deforestation, land conversion and marine fishing throughout the Philippines coupled with poor infrastructure will only leave Filipinos vulnerable to more calamities such as Ondoy.
Support People’s Needs, Not Corruption
In this time of urgent need for the vast majority of Filipinos impacted by Ondoy, BAYAN USA appeals to supporters around the world to think twice before donating financial support to Philippine government-led initiatives such as those spearheaded by consular offices around the world.
The reason why overseas Filipinos are choosing NOT to remit through government channels is because of the Philippine government’s proven and historical track record of taking advantage of monetary donation drives in response to calamities as ample opportunities for graft. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo is one glaring example of this. In fact, to this day, more than Pph 7 billion (USD $280 million) in public funds allocated for post-eruption disaster relief remains unaccounted for.
The Philippine government makes billions in US dollars every year from the remittances of overseas Filipinos. Let’s not give them a chance to make more money off the victims of Ondoy. There are more reliable and credible people organizations both in the United States and in the Philippines, who not only organize communities for social reforms, but are now working tirelessly to divert donations from the government’s corrupt hands and bring direct relief to the most impacted areas without any discrimination or bias. Visit www.bayanusa.org or www.bayanihan4ondoy.wordpress.com to learn more about them. ###