MANILA, Philippines-Following last week’s mammoth protest dubbed as “People Surge” in Tacloban city against government’s apparent slow response to super typhoon Yolanda survivors in central Philippines, petitioners maintained more rallies will be staged around the country to show their indignation to Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
“This is a people surge – a swelling of the people demanding justice for Yolanda victims and asserting their right to food, housing, livelihood and social services.”
“ The massive number of people is proof of their intense discontent over Aquino’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in looking after the welfare of its people. This is just the first of a series of protests that will fill the streets of major cities across the country in indignation of the Aquino administration,” said Sr. Edita Eslopor, OSB, chairperson of People Surge, an alliance for the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
According to Eslopor, last Friday’s protest march was to seek for justice and for their rights “versus Aquino’s criminal neglect,” adding it displayed their “enormous discontent over Aquino’s administration’s criminal negligence and utter incompetence in delivering adequate relief and rehabilitation to the ‘Yolanda’ victims.”
More than t 12-000 strong rallyists who came from various municipalities of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Western Samar and Leyte joined the movement which said to be the “first biggest gathering of demonstrators in more than a decade” in the country, organizers said.
“The assembly of more than 12,000-strong protesters from various parts of the region, majority from far flung villages, belies the recent SWS survey that rated the Aquino government “very good” in delivering the relief and rehabilitation for the typhoon victims,” added Dr. Efleda Bautista, one of the convenors of the said alliance, in a statement to Manila Channel.
“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 ineptness in addressing the wellbeing of its people,” said the alliance in its unity statement.
The alliance also hold Aquino administration responsible for the massive deaths in the region “because it failed to guarantee the safety and welfare of the victims when super typhoon Yolanda struck the country on November 8, 2013.”
Also they assailed the Aquino government for its “slow delivery of immediate relief to the victims even after two months, the corruption-riddled bunkhouses, and the anti-people no-build policy imposed on residents within the 40-meter stretch from the shore.”
This while criticizing NEDA’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) or popularly known as “Build Back Better” saying that “the hapless victims, not big businesses, should be at the core of the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government.”
Among the alliance’s immediate demands are the P40,000 monetary aid per family of typhoon victims, the scrapping of the no-build zone policy that effectively evicts families in coastal communities from their homes and livelihood, the immediate reconstruction of vital public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and the immediate restoration of utilities such as power and water sources.
The rally was the culmination of a two-day activity which began with a vigil-memorial for the typhoon victims at the Eastern Visayas State University in Tacloban City.
In a statement, they also alleged that “at least 11 jeepneys carrying Yolanda victims and supporters from Western Samar were stopped on January 24 in Pinabacdao and prevented by the PNP-Regional Mobile Group from attending the vigil-memorial and indignation rally.”