Noynoy, not God, was absent when Yolanda struck, says lawmaker

By Tyrone A. Velez & Danilda L. Fusilero
DAVAO TODAY

DAVAO CITY — Criticisms continue to mount against the snail-paced delivery of relief goods and medicines to Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas, as exposed in national and international television.

A week has passed since Yolanda’s furious wind and storm surge left thousands dead and cities devastated, but until today, there is a reported failure in logistics preventing relief from reaching the starving and dying survivors.

As government appealed to groups and individuals to refrain from playing the blame game, a worried nation and international community pointed at the chaotic and obvious lack of crisis management as the immediate culprit behind the starvation of thousands of victims. They are now into their first week of ordeal without adequate food, water and medicines.

When President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III appeared on international cable news and placed the blame on the local government for the chaos and non-delivery of relief goods, the nation pounced on the blame game that Malacañang started.

It did not help that a known female television broadcaster also came to the President’s rescue, only to spark wider netizen outrage.

Progressive lawmakers and opinion makers also joined in, questioning what Aquino has in mind in handling a crisis of such magnitude.

“It’s not God who was absent or was somewhere else when Yolanda struck. It was the Aquino administration that was and still is nowhere to be felt, found or seen by our hapless kababayans (fellow Filipinos),” said Davao-based lawmaker, Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna Partylist.

Zarate’s statement was a take from Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier quote saying “God must be somewhere else when Yolanda struck,” after he saw the devastation in Leyte.

The lawmaker reacted on images from both international and national media showing lack of orderly distribution of relief to survivors and retrieval of bodies.

“As people are dying, some of sickness, many of starvation, it appeared that no one person or government official is truly in charge of the situation. Much of what we heard from these officials were all media sound bites as people are dying,” he said.

Zarate, who had witnessed slow relief efforts for Typhoon Pablo in Davao regions, said the government never learned its lessons.

“It appeared that the government is horribly clueless, badly inefficient or even criminally disorganized,” he said.

Another Davao-based lawmaker, Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela Women Partylist, also said government should have staged more efficient strategies to ensure immediate rescue and relief, but their response has been “lousy”.

“Six days after typhoon Yolanda survivors continue to walk, sleep and scour for food among the dead in ruined structures, why is it that there is no centralized shelter or even a tent city in these areas? Why are survivors left to line up for relief goods and rice when we know that they do not even have clean water or pots to cook them with? Why is it that no centralized socialized kitchen for food distribution has been set up? Why is it that there is no makeshift hospital to attend to those who need medical attention?”

Ilagan said this lack of system has diminished hopes among survivors that eventually led to violence including looting of goods.

“A humanitarian crisis of this proportion can and will spawn violence. It is high time that the Aquino government get its act together rather than waste time and effort defending itself from international criticism for its glaringly disorganized and incompetent response to the disaster brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda,” said Ilagan.

Businessman Amado So, of the Davao Chinatown Association, said Aquino was indecisive since Day One that forced residents to “loot” goods from malls and stores out of despair.

The looting, he said, would indicate that food may have been immediately available had government only talked and arranged it with the business community in the locality.

“I think, that if Aquino had only told businessmen that government would pay all their goods and distribute it to the victims, there wouldn’t have this problem,” he said.

“Survivors wouldn’t have to wait for relief goods from Manila to arrive because the goods are right there in Tacloban. The businessmen there were willing to give their goods at a discount. But everything’s too late now, everything’s in chaos,” So said.

Maureen Villamor, head of a youth relief drive Tulong Kabataan in North Cotabato, was worried that their relief efforts would come to naught without a clear system.

“The reports are disgusting. Relief goods like food packs are lacking. Where are the government funds? Why can’t the government give substantial assistance to the victims?” she asked.

For now, it’s a race against time to save survivors and give them hope. The United Nations issued a global appeal for $300 million in aid, as the United States also deployed its troops to the Eastern Visayas, and who arrived on Leyte via the warship USS George Washington.

But questions remain on how all this would be put in place without a clear direction.

“The government is so incompetent that it even allowed the conduct of relief, rescue operations to be undertaken by foreign troops,” said Zarate. (Tyrone A. Velez and Danilda L. Fusilero, Reposted by ())

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3 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. everyone who could help and did not is to blame. The businessman stands in front of the starving baby with a bottle of milk in one hand and the other reaching out for payment. Where are the proud Filipinos? Why couldn’t an armada of pump boats set out to rescue their brothers? For the same reason every house and building has it’s windows and doors covered with steel bars and steel gates. For the same reason every church has an armed guard with a shotgun at the gate. With our without typhoons, Filipino children are starving every day, day in and day out, because Filipinos simply do not give a damn and why the God they so proclaim hands out just rewards.

  2. I think that getting the help of foreign troops should not be criticized (last line of the report) if they are better equipped than the Filipino government forces. Imagine the situation without the support of American planes. This of course does not exonerate the current government from its many lapses and weaknesses.

  3. Aquino is not slow in acting because he is still trying to somehow blame all of this mess to GMA.
    This admin recent answer to its failure to meet the needs of the people in the Visayas is to censor the Press, like do not report any figures until you clear with us first. PR is its top priority.

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