gang of five

MANILA, Philippines-Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda today marched on President Benigno Aquino III’s house on Times Street in Quezon City to clamor for justice over gross government neglect despite the people’s sufferings.

“While it is true that there are incompetent officials in charge of relief and rehabilitation, the final responsibility falls with President Aquino,” said Sr. Edita Eslopor, People Surge spokesperson.

“Typhoon Yolanda exposed a disastrous president. The horrendous casualties could have been avoided in the first place, if the Aquino government had acted promptly and evacuated the people. Now the casualties will surely mount in the coming years because of the serious shortcomings in relief and rehabilitation.”

The protesters denounced President Aquino as “Waray pulos!” (Useless!) and the chief representative of inutile officials whom they dubbed the “Gang of Five.”

“The President sent armed troops to Tacloban City in the early days after Yolanda because the people were up in arms over the long-delayed relief operations. Today relief and rehabilitation remains a joke, and there are still numerous armed troops because the government’s Oplan Bayanihan is their way of suppressing the people’s discontent. It is not surprising that there are many who are up in arms. President Aquino has proven to be a disaster himself for leading the militarized, corruption-ridden, politicized, and ineptly delivered and implemented relief and rehabilitation.”

The People Surge protesters said the President must be brought to account for his criminal negligence.

“Typhoon Yolanda has cast a shadow on the rest of the President’s term,” said Sr. Eslopor.

“The survivors will not let him forget his responsibility. Having said an apology is not enough without any far-ranging rectification such as the sacking of all corrupt and incompetent rehabilitation officials, providing the people’s immediate needs and basic social services, consulting the people for a genuine reconstruction program, and asserting sovereignty and self-reliance. The people will certainly hound President Aquino until the end of his term and even afterwards. Without justice, there can be no genuine reconstruction,” said Sr. Eslopor.