Philippines Submerged in Water
The wrath of Typhoon Ondoy( international code: Ketsana) whipped the country’s capital and other parts of Luzon with devastating damages. Streets and communities of the country’s capital submerged in water and turned into rushing rivers, houses were flashed away and trees were sliced down by strong winds. People were helplessly racing for their lives with nowhere to go. Women and children swam in high waters assisted by their families and rescue teams. Others stayed at their rooftop and cried for rescue for more than 24 hours.
As reported by the weather bureau PAG-ASA, the volume of rain Typhoon Ondoy poured on Metro Manila and several nearby provinces was unusually large – a month’s worth of rain in just 12 hours, the most since 1967. Thus, tropical storm Ondoy left three hundred eighty eight (388) dead, forty (42) missing , five (injured) and 3.2 millions Filipino affected, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council October 3 report .
The estimated damages cost is about P3.2 billion with P2 billion for infrastructure and P3.2 Billion for agriculture as reported by the National Disaster Coordinating Council. The research institute Ibon Foundation, reveals that 98% of those affected population came from the poor families whose income depends on entrepreneurial activities. They are the urban poor dwellers or informal sectors where women and children are actively engaged in such a vulnerable and insecure livelihood.
The report of NDCC also shows that only 880,050 victims were given relief assistance out of the 3.2 million populations affected. This shows the slow government disaster response. Children are already getting sick in the evacuation centers. Pregnant women were giving birth in evacuation centers. Doctors and medicines are badly needed as well as food and safe drinking water. Debris of mud and garbage are still covering the streets and communities in Metro Manila as government clean up operations were also slow.
The almost half millions affected were housed in 515 evacuation centers with very limited relief assistance. Others were forced to go back to their places even it’s still flooded to start reconstructing their lives and homes from the onslaught. Some were compelled to return to their shattered homes to find their missing love ones. Faces of grieving women and children in front of their love ones lined up coffins shows their bleak future.
Still groping from the destruction Typhoon Ondoy, another storm Typhoon Pepeng (international codename: Perma) struck northern provinces today (October 4) with 16 dead, 2 missing and 32,055 families or 152,755 individuals in 492 barangays. Landslide and flashflood buried houses and two families, buildings, roads, farms and other infrastructures.
Qoute from the Associated Press through mobile phone “ We're like at sea”, Tumaru , mayor of a nearby Aparri town said as he inspected an inundated village by boat. "This used to be a rice field with roads and power posts. Now, it's just water everywhere."
Cost of damages is not yet reported due to broken telephone lines. Another storm Typhoon Melor is expecting to hit the country this Sunday.
I wonder how long the victims will recover from this devastation especially the poor families. The Arroyo government downplayed the long term effect of the storm. How can they when they can’t even provide adequate relief assistance to the typhoon victims? The double- whammy impact of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng to the already poverty- stricken plight of the Filipino people left nothing of their belongings including their hope to the present government.
With this kind of government the Filipinos have, it will cost a lifetime recovery for those severely affected. According to Ibon, the government received almost US$1 million in 2006 for reconstruction relief and rehabilitation. In 2007, it also received US$8.5 million in commitments for humanitarian aid, of which US$6.6 million was allotted for disaster preparedness and prevention, and US$1.9 million for emergency response.
“Given the allegations of rampant corruption in government and past irregularities in the aid process, the group AidWatch expressed concern that disaster relief aid could have been misspent and used for personal gain. With the influx of the relief assistance from different donor countries for Ondoy victims through government channels, now estimated at about US$4.8 million, Ibon Foundation raised the possibility that these funds may again end up unaccounted for.”
Though, there is light in the midst of this darkness. The Filipino resiliency in times of crisis always provides hope. There is hope for women and children victims of calamities. Women victims should turn their grief to courage in demanding government adequate relief and rehabilitation assistance. Government accountability on calamity funds expenses should be demanded. Environmental laws, policies and practices must be reviewed to prevent calamity related - environmental disaster such as flashflood, landslide, etc.
Civil society groups on environmental groups, disaster response networks, anti corruption advocates and the women’s movement must join hand together in working for a sustainable disaster response advocacy program as opposed to the present administration. Meanwhile, appeal for food aid and other relief assistance such as used clothings, medicine, and housing materials must be strengthened. In time like this, it is the collective love everybody needs to mend each other’s heart. Hope lies within our hands in changing the wind of our future###