EDITORIAL - The other disaster victims
(The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2015 - 9:00am

Malacañang and the city government of Tacloban are feuding again, this time over the absence of President Aquino at ceremonies last Sunday marking the second anniversary of the day Super Typhoon Yolanda brought grievous death and destruction to large swaths of Eastern Visayas.

Despite the President’s conspicuous absence at the commemorative rites in Tacloban both this year and in 2014, the welfare of the Yolanda victims and rehabilitation work in the typhoon areas continue to attract the attention of the government and foreign aid donors.

Overlooked in all that attention is the plight of the other disaster victims, and there are many. As in Samar and Leyte, it will take years before the coconut and banana plantations in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley fully recover and become sustainable sources of livelihood. The two areas were the hardest hit when Super Typhoon Pablo, a Category 5 weather disturbance, hit Mindanao in 2012.

The third anniversary of Pablo, which made landfall on Dec. 3, is approaching. The typhoon claimed over 600 lives and displaced entire communities, mostly in villages so remote it took some time for emergency relief to reach the affected areas. The victims have not fully recovered and can use more assistance.

Also needing sustained assistance are the victims of Tropical Storm Sendong, which struck Mindanao on Dec. 16, 2011. Heavy rains brought by Sendong triggered torrential flashfloods from the mountains that wiped away communities in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. The death toll hit 1,472 with 1,074 missing and 1,748 injured, according to the final count of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

With the country hit regularly by typhoons, public interest even in the worst natural calamities can evaporate quickly. The government must review the status of relief and rehabilitation work in disaster areas. Even Zamboanga City has not completely recovered from the three-week siege staged in 2013 by a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front. Like the victims of natural calamities, those displaced by the siege must not be forgotten.

DAVAO ORIENTAL AND COMPOSTELA VALLEY DESPITE THE PRESIDENT EASTERN VISAYAS EVEN ZAMBOANGA CITY INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES MINDANAO MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT ORO AND ILIGAN CITY PRESIDENT AQUINO SAMAR AND LEYTE SUPER TYPHOON PABLO
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