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Consolidating Consensus, Advancing People’s Struggles and Building Alternatives
Five months after Yolanda, cities, towns and communities across the Visayas and areas in Northern Palawan have yet to see any real help from the PNoy Government.
Stories of land-grabbing, displacement, rising hunger and human rights violations continue to be hummed by affected communities as they contend with the scarcity of meaningful governmental response - a disaster that dwarfs the fury unleashed by Yolanda.
The PNoy government post-Yolanda has set in motion a rehabilitation course that purports to embody the build back better principle. It has unveiled its Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) which has pegged the investment requirements for recovery and reconstruction at P360.9 B for critical immediate actions, short-term interventions and medium-term needs within a four (4) year horizon from 2013 until 2017. Under the 2014 General Appropriations Act, P20 Billion pesos have been earmarked for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the government. On top of this another P80 B worth of unprogrammed funds has been allotted to augment the rehabilitation budget to finance the government’s short-term interventions.
However, the cornerstone approach under RAY is to “encourage and facilitate the active involvement of the private sector” for its implementation. This includes expansion of public-private partnership arrangements for major investment programs, fostering business-community links through adopt a town partnerships, among other modalities for “greater private sector involvement”.
There’s the rub. Much of the investment will be ushered in by the corporate sector with the Government sidestepping in favor of big business. This explains for example why Nickel Asia Corporation, a big mining firm, is spearheading the rehabilitation efforts in Guiuan, Eastern Samar – an area rich in nickel and magnetite. In places like Salcedo, Eastern Samar fears are being raised that the work of civil society organizations in rehabilitation and reconstruction might be overshadowed, if not undermined by other big corporate activities that will run at cross purposes with the goals of rebuilding climate resilient , just and sustainable communities.
The corporate-driven and led rehabilitation is compounded by yet another issue: RAY in itself was formulated and executed devoid of public participation, even of those whom it assumed to be its beneficiaries, the Yolanda-stricken areas and communities. Even as voices from the affected areas are yearning and struggling to be heard, the government has announced RAY 2.
What the five (5) months after Yolanda is revealing is not only the utter lack of disaster preparedness by the government when the Tyhpoon hit or when another typhoon of similar magnitude strikes but its willingness to lend itself accomplice, if not principal, to a business track by corporations that capitalizes on the vulnerability of millions, of building back businesses with better return of investment prospects.
Like Yolanda, RAY preys on the people.
We demand for the government to fulfill its obligation in promoting and ensuring the welfare of its people, thus spearheading a people-centered, rights-based rehabilitation process. People not corporations should be underlying inspiration in rebuilding the communities and local economies!
End the PNoy Government’s Rejection and Abandonment of Yolanda-affected areas!
Pursue a people-centered and a rights- based rehabilitation plan now!!!
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)
Faith Based Congress Against Illegitimate Debt (FCAID)