MANILA, Philippines—As the Supertyphoon “Yolanda” death toll reached over 4,000 as of Wednesday and over a million others remain hungry in ravaged areas, relatives of typhoon victims are calling on the government for swifter relief distribution and rehabilitation.
With no news of their families in Eastern Samar, residents of a Waray community in Manila have urged concerned government agencies to get their acts together and attend to the needs of typhoon victims.
The group, calling itself Tindog Network, called for expedited relief operations, sufficient supply of resources for the victims, “decent graves” for the dead, support for the affected farmers and fishermen, and financial assistance for the victims and their families. “Tindog” is Waray for arise. The equivalent Tagalog term is “bangon.”
“Tayo ay nababaraka (nababahala) sa kalagayan ng aming mga kamag-anak doon…kung saan lahat ng bahay nila nawasak. Nawala ang lahat. Ang marami ay nasa bingit ng kamatayan ngayon dahil sa gutom (“We are worried of the situation of our relatives there…All of their houses were destroyed. Everything is gone. Many are nearing death because of hunger”), said a man who introduced himself as Brother Roy.
Bro. Roy, who has yet to hear from his two children in Borongan, Eastern Samar, was among those who gathered in front of reporters on Monday, in a bid to hasten relief efforts in their home province.
Mary Ann Florendo said their group hopes to unite the Waray community in Manila and possibly gather relief goods for their relatives in Samar and Leyte islands.
“Until now I am hoping that my children are still alive…The relatives of typhoon victims want to know if their families are still alive, know if they have food to eat,” she said in Filipino.
Florendo said the last time she heard from her three children, aged 9 to 12, was before the typhoon hit Eastern Visayas.
The three boys, who are living with their grandparents in Tanauan, Leyte, called her up and asked her to go home and see them.
“‘Ma, uli na.’ Uwi na daw ako dun. Sabi ko sige uuwi ako pagkatapos ng trabaho ko. Pagdating ng bagyo wala na kaming contact. Wala akong balita,” she said.
“Ang mga anak ko maliliit pa (My children are still young)…” a teary eyed Florendo told mediamen.
Unable to go to Leyte because of lack of funds, she is hoping for efficient relief efforts in Visayas.
“Kami humihingi ng tulong at nakikiusap kay Presidente PNoy (Aquino) na pabilisin ang relief operation…Yung mga pagkain, yung mga dumarating na pera na galing sa iba’t ibang bansa bakit hindi n’yo pabilisin at bigyan ang mga tao roon? (We are asking President Aquino for help, to speed up the relief operations…The food and money sent by other countries…why can’t you immediately send it to the people there?)” she said.
Meanwhile, Arnold Repique said the government did not sufficiently warn the residents of the devastation that the supertyphoon could bring.
“Before the storm I talked to my relatives…They said there was no clear announcement from the government how strong the storm was. That’s why they were complacent…I told my wife the Aquino government had a plan,” he said.
“But after what happened, after the tragedy, we realized that the Aquino administration had no plan.”
Sonny Landino said it seemed the government has been neglecting the typhoon survivors.
“We are calling on the government to be attentive to the needs of typhoon victims in Samar and Leyte. The President’s pork barrel is large…it can be used to help victims. He has the power to do that,” he said.
Florendo echoed Landino: “Why can’t President Aquino use his funds? That pork barrel should be given to people who are in need.”