Thank you very much for those who extended their solidarity with the Filipino people, in these grave and trying moments in our history. Your kind words and support are very much appreciated – especially in the midst of the obscenely criminal neglect of the Philippine government to prepare and respond to the crisis.
Even several international news agencies whose journalists are near the badly affected areas in the Visayas have pointedly criticized the Aquino administration for its ineptitude in addressing the needs of our kababayans in the provinces affected by the typhoon – CNN says that there is no leader, no centralized civilian government responding appropriately to the tragedy – a very emotional yet factual and objective assessment and sentiment of the majority of the Filipino people who were victimized and who have witnessed the impact of the typhoon.
The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has recorded more than 1,800 deaths in several provinces, but local and international media, and our network of people’s organisations in the area have estimated that there is an estimated 10,000 people who perished. Please see: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/526485/yolanda-death-toll-breaches-1800-80000-houses-totally-destroyed-ndrrmc.
Philippine President Aquino has conveniently laid the blame again to the local government, that the they were ill-prepared for the storm – despite national government’s full knowledge of the intensity and impact of the typhoon – and in effect, laying the blame on the victims themselves because of the sense of “lawlessness” (because mainstream media and the President’s men having conveniently propped up the “looting” incidents in the area). Thus, additional military and police personnel were deployed for the security situation – not for humanitarian response – and a curfew has been imposed in the provinces covered by the state of national calamity declaration.
Despite millions of dollars of humanitarian aid coming from different foreign governments directed through the Philippine government, the victims have been asking – where are the relief goods, where are the temporary shelters, where is much needed medical support? These are in fact questions that have been asked by most Filipinos, every time a disaster like this happens, and this has been especially highlighted because of the ongoing emerging issues of corruption in the country by government officials.
Karapatan and people’s organisations and faith-based institutions have deployed advance teams in Samar and Leyte since Monday, mainly to locate human rights defenders and their families in the area. We have effectively reestablished contacts with our chapter and member organisations in samar and Leyte. Our coordinator, Pastor Irma Balaba, her 5-year old daughter, and her family were almost swept away (they hanged on to electricity posts, when the storm surge waters hit Tacloban City), if not for the successful rescue attempts of their neighbor.
The Bethany Hospital of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, which offers free services for the human rights victims and poor families, has been destroyed and only the flooring was left – the roof, hospital equipment, etc were wiped out – but luckily the patients were evacuated to rooftops but one patient died. Several communities of militarized communities and families of political prisoners were rendered homeless.
They are all in a state of shock and are dazed with what has happened, but they are now in the process of recovery by conducting relief work among those affected. We are in the process of gathering all the financial and material support, and we will be able to send 5,000 packs of relief support hopefully by tomorrow when transport lines will be available. For those who were asking for the details on how they can contribute financial support, you may donate through:
Through our bank account
Account Name: Karapatan
Account Number: 186-2-18600268-1
Bank: Metrobank, Kalayaan Avenue Branch, Quezon City, Philippines
Or through Western Union with the following details: send c/o Cristina Palabay
Telephone number: +632-4354146
I attached a picture which appeared in the front page of the national and local dailies here. I am also including here the speech of Climate Change Commissioner Naderev Sano in the COP18 Climate Change Summit in Warsaw, Poland – an excellent statement of the woes and pleas of the Filipino people. Naderev is actually one of the very few public officials in the Philippines who has kept in touch with people’s organisations on their comprehensive analysis on climate justice, and we have known him since our time in the University of the Philippines as activists. Here is the video of his speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yITq61XedI.
In a few hours, we will also be joining the National Solidarity Action for the victims of the typhoon – a caravan will be conducted in schools and communities to collect relief goods and donations – and a candlelighting activity will be held. Fundraising activities are also being conducted by many friends outside the country.
Words cannot describe how deeply we appreciate your efforts and kind words – the warm solidarity you have extended for the Philippines – and we continue to seek your support as we overcome these tragic events.
Cristina “Tinay” Ellazar Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General
and Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women) – Philippines Convenor