A serious rehabilitation effort that responds to the challenge of climate change must be in the mind now, especially our leaders.
Manhattan – At the Justice-not-Charity forum of AF3IRM NYC, transnational feminist and writer Ninotchka Rosca presented the heart-breaking reality of the conditions of the survivors of Yolanda/Haiyan . “We didn’t receive any (imported) spam, just cans of sardines. We are rebuilding by the shores, for where else will we go?,” the usually feisty Rosca held back tears as she was quoting locals in Tacloban during the International Women’s day celebration March 8 forum.
Philippine accountability remains high as survivors continue to live imperiled lives, four months after the world’s strongest typhoon hit land. A report by the USAID in 2013-2014 said that about $393 million in aid was poured into the Philippine government from various governments all over the world.
“If these monies were indeed used to where it was intended, the survivors of the super typhoon would have been relocated to safer grounds and a long term program for safer environments may have begun, like coastal and upland reforestation and other earth-rehabilitative measures,” said Rosca.
A resident of Cebu City, who is a native of Tacloban, shared that not a drop of penny or a nail was received from the government in her home province. “Not an ounce of help from government did I see. All the efforts I saw there were by an American-sponsored non-government organization,” she revealed.
The USAID said that total humanitarian aid to the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan, are as follows: United Kingdom — $103,710,188; United States — 87,735,755; Japan — $51,701,450; Australia — $38,688,313; Norway — $26,588,003; CERF — $25,284,316; Canada — $19,083,702; Sweden — $16,598,655; Germany — $15,987,312; Netherlands — $13,690,879.
These are government donations and does not include private donations to charity groups and non-governmental organizations.
A New York-based Filipina had opined that it was much better that she and her family had sent her hard-earned money directly to her affected family members in Ormoc. “We cannot wait for government to help us. We help ourselves. The help coming from our own pockets may be small, but it reaches them,” said Nimfa Martin.
Rosca, along with AF3IRM chairperson Jollene Levid, visited the provinces of Leyte (where the worst hit Tacloban is located), Cebu, and Iloilo to get a glimpse of the Haiyan – Yolanda aftermath in December 2013 until early January this year. Their group is running a campaign to partner with locals for long-term rehabilitation efforts on economic development and environmental protection as well as protection from sexual exploitation, especially of women and children.
The sluggish help from the national government is common knowledge and is largely due to traditional politics. President Aquino and his family are long time arch enemies with incumbent Governor Romualdez whose clan is affiliated by affinity to the late President Marcos.
“The extent of the devastation of Haiyan should be a wake up call for long term and serious rehabilitation effort that responds to the challenge of climate change. It must be in the mind now, especially our leaders. But politics in the country is too thick for that,” said Rosca.
AF3IRM is a national organization of transnational feminists with eight chapters in major cities in the US.