‘Yolanda’ victims in Aklan, Capiz rally
ILOILO CITY—Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Tuesday held what they said was their version of the Stations of the Cross to protest the alleged delay and lack of help from the national government.
More than 1,000 protesters joined separate protest actions in Aklan and Capiz provinces to mark the fifth month since Yolanda struck on Nov. 8 last year.
In Roxas City in Capiz, at least 1,000 protesters, led by the groups Buylog sa Pagbangon Capiznon, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and Gabriela, assembled in three points before converging at the Roxas City Plaza Bandstand.
From each assembly point, a life-size cross made of wood and cardboard was carried and followed by protesters wearing black ribbons around their arms.
Written on the crosses were the sufferings that the storm victims are blaming on the government. These include the lack of housing assistance and threats brought by the government’s no-dwelling zone (NDZ) policy.
The NDZ policy bars typhoon victims residing in coastlines vulnerable to storm surges and flooding from rebuilding their homes on those sites. It, however, allows tourism and livelihood-related structures.
In the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan, crosses representing Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and President Aquino were carried by protesters from the Pastrana Park to Crossing Banga for a program before the protesters proceeded to the provincial capitol.
At least 400 protesters, led by the groups Task Force Tabang-Aklan and Bayan, demanded the release of the government’s housing assistance fund of P30,000 for each family who lost their home and P10,000 for each family who needs to repair theirs.
They also demanded cash assistance of P40,000 per family and a stop to the compulsory relocation of communities along coastlines under the government’s NDZ policy.
“Exactly five months after Supertyphoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in Aklan, Aklanons have yet to receive sufficient assistance from the government,” said Task Force Tabang-Aklan in a statement.
“Without ‘bayanihan’ (communal work) among the survivors and without the help of various international and local nongovernment organizations and individuals, the affected families and communities could not have started to rise from the destruction brought by the supertyphoon,” it added.
“Just like in other areas affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda, the government has turned its back on and abandoned its responsibility to help its people rise up from the destruction. Essentially, it unofficially relegated this responsibility to nongovernment organizations that have offered to help,” according to the task force.
Aklan and Capiz are among the areas worst hit by Yolanda.
The storm destroyed more than 200,000 houses and damaged more than 300,000 others in the Western Visayas provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Antique and Guimaras.
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