TACLOBAN, Philippines – Despite heavy rainfall, 20,000 survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Haiyan) marched at ‘ground zero’ days before the second anniversary of the world’s most powerful typhoon to ever make landfall, only comparable to the recent ‘Patricia’. The march intends to hold the administration of President Noynoy Aquino accountable for the continuing injustices two years after the typhoon.
A study by the Ibon Foundation noted how the private interests in the rehabilitation programs concentrated in 24 areas deemed profitable for reconstruction. Reconstruction Assistance under the ‘adopt-an-LGU’ (local government unit) scheme ended up distributing the coastal development clusters among magnates of big corporations, while neglecting 54 remote and interior municipalities and cities affected by Yolanda.
The survivors’ march capped a week of climate actions across the country that aimed to raise public awareness and register opposition to various climate issues.
“Diri kami hingangalimot (We will never forget). They unceremoniously buried our dead in mass graves, but disaster upon disaster in these two years have kept our our memories of Yolanda’s devastation fresh. The Aquino administration criminally neglected our people time and again, a continuing injustice that will never be put to the grave.
The much-storied ‘building back better’ of the Aquino Government was marked with the malversation of emergency shelter assistance and other disaster funds. We victims have been through a slow and inefficient rehabilitation program, suffering an undemocratic disregard of our grievances and demands, and the aggressive profiteering and plunder of big business interests in the reconstruction.
We contribute very little to the climate crisis but are the ones most affected by it. Our call for justice goes the same for the world leaders meeting at Paris this December–we demand reparations from the top polluters to all victims of the global climate crisis, and we join the call for a binding international climate agreement that will uphold people’s rights instead of ensuring the profits of big polluters.”
– Marissa Cabaljao, Secretary General of the People Surge Alliance of Disaster Survivors.
During the recent All Saints Day and All Souls Day last November 1 and 2, People Surge solemnly remembered their dead at the unmarked mass graves. Haiyan victims and other young survivors such as Jefferson Custodio, killed later by suspected military agents for actively supporting efforts of People Surge to bring aid to their fellow survivors and demanding accountability from the national government in the process.
On November 4, a picket action led by the scientist group AGHAM, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), the climate action group 350.org Philippines, and the consumer alliance POWER raised the ‘dirty lies of energy privatization hidden by climate rhetoric’, with a demonstration outside the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Climate Change Symposium in Crowne Plaza, Pasig City.
That same day, around 200 participating leaders and advocates gathered in the First People’s Environmental Conference (PEC) to discuss the current climate situation and come up with a common people’s platform to campaign for genuine climate solutions. Participants expressed their support to the Haiyan survivors’ action a day before the big march on November 5.
“The PEC was declared a counter-conference to the APEC Climate Change Symposium and a solidarity affair for Haiyan survivors as they are rendered voiceless in important gatherings such as the APEC and the COP21 climate negotiations.The Aquino government is being complicit with the world’s top polluter and plunderer countries and companies that dominate the APEC and COP21 programmes by ignoring the plight of Haiyan survivors. Aquino is also condemning Haiyan survivors continuing to allow foreign-driven fossil fuels to dominate 86 percent of approved future power projects in the Philippines.” Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE
While hundreds of residents from Anibong, Tacloban led by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice stormed the streets to protest the ‘snail-paced’ rehabilitation efforts by the government yesterday, two years after Typhoon Yolanda’s devastation. The march featured an effigy of a snail symbolizing the pace and pest-like nature of government’s rehabilitation efforts, which has not only failed to deliver responsive recovery, but brought displacement and more loss of livelihood for surviving communities.
Youth for Climate Justice (Y4CJ) led more than 700 students from the Eastern Visayas State University held a candlelight vigil across the streets of Ormoc, Leyte in solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda two years ago and its survivors who suffer from profiteering and politicking in the rehabilitation efforts.
Diverse groups continue waving the banner of Haiyan survivors on the lead to the COP21 as they mobilize their ranks for the Global Climate March on November 28-29. March for Climate Justice Pilipinas, a convergence of movements and organizations from different sectors of society gathered together by our common appeal for urgent climate action is organizing nationwide mobilizations in coordination with the Roman Catholic Church of the Philippines.
We cannot afford another Haiyan-like disaster. We hope that COP21 will not be adding more insult to the injuries of Haiyan survivors. The failure to act on a crisis where people’s lives are at stake is another form of criminal negligence. We urge world leaders in Paris this December to remember their responsibility and come up with a climate agreement ensuring 80% of known fossil fuel is kept underground.