Freeman Region

After 4 devastating typhoons Samarnons protest gov’t lack of disaster assistance

Rommel L. Rutor - The Freeman

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines – The people of Samar province survived the devastation of four typhoons—Yolanda, Glenda, Ruby and Seniang—but their hope of getting government’s help is getting devastated further to this day.

This prompted at least 2000 people from various towns in Samar to stage on Monday a protest rally in front of the Capitol to demand from the government the long-held up disaster response and assistance to areas destroyed by a series of typhoons.

The group, consisting of farmers and fishermen who are members of the Kapunungan han mga Parag-uma ha Weste han Samar, or Kapawa, said many lives were lost to the typhoons and Samar suffered more than P2 billion in agricultural and property damages, but then both the national and local governments had treated the rehabilitation as "normal" but without significant efforts to help the victims rise via livelihood assistance.

Kapawa spokesperson Marissa Cabaljaw told The Freeman the protesters were already fed up of waiting in their respective villages where relief and rehabilation efforts have been rarely felt.

"This (protest action) is our way of letting the government know that we cannot simply stay and wait. It's more than a year since Yolanda, and there had been a series of disastrous typhoons that hit us-from Glenda, to Ruby and Seniang-yet there was no concrete assistance that would alleviate the lives of the survivors whose source of livelihood were destroyed by these calamities," Cabaljaw said.

Cabaljaw said the typhoon survivors have been demanding the government to immediately provide food assistance for three months for those whose shelters and farms were damaged, and come up with concrete rehabilitation plans for damaged shelters, public utilities and economic facilities, including agricultural implements in all heavily damaged villages, towns and cities.

The Samar provincial government should also be open to the public, or be transparent on its use of the multi-million calamity fund, she said, adding that Kapawa also demanded for the construction of quality evacuation centers in every town or city to provide refuge to Samarnons in times of typhoons.

Cabaljaw said: "It seems that the rehab efforts, as we can see it, is mainly focused on infra developments, and the direct assistance that the people should be getting such as food, shelter rehab and livelihood are not in the priority list because we cannot feel it."

Cabaljaw also slammed the national government for not giving equal attention to the victims of the recent typhoons pointing out that Samar, like any other provinces, had sustained enormous damage from strong typhoons.

"We are celebrating heart's month. We hope that our government officials should also open their hearts to the farmers, the fishermen, and the small-scale entrepreneurs in cities, and extend us appropriate and serious attention because we are the sector that fuels the economy", Cabaljaw added.

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