Fishers warn Noy, Mar of post 2016 charges over neglect of Yolanda victims

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Fishers warn Noy, Mar of post 2016 charges over neglect of Yolanda victims

By Franklin Roosevelt Dimaguiba and Gerry Albert Corpuz

 

Manila, Philippines- A flurry of criminal and civil charges await President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas III right after the May 2016 elections over their disastrous response to survivors of super typhoon Yolanda that devastated the country last November.

In a press statement, militant fisherfolk federation Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the Chief Executive and the secretary of the interior and local government should expect a storm surge of cases to be filed against them right after the 2016 national elections.

“Definitely our group will file one in the name of small fisherfolk horrendously displaced by the disastrous address of the Aquino government to the humanitarian crisis. Payback time will come and thy will be done,” said Salvador France, vice chair of Pamalakaya in a statement.

The Pamalakaya official said his group decided not to file charges against Aquino and Roxas since they can effectively use their powerful positions to render inutile and thwart all legal complaints against officials of the Aquino presidency.

“Nearly 6,000 people were dead, 26, 136 were injured, 1,769 were still missing and about 15 million people were displaced. The Aquino-Roxas tandem never did their assignment on quick and effective response to the disaster simply because they don’t like the city mayor of Tacloban—that Mayor Alfred Romualdez is a Marcos and the President is an Aquino,” added France.

In its update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 2,376,217 families or 11,236,054 individuals were affected in 12,076 villages in 44 provinces. Of these, 47,863 families or 217,444 people are still staying in 1,070 evacuation centers. The damage caused by Yolanda the NDRRMC said is peggef at P30.646 billion, including P15.620 billion in infrastructure and P15.026 billion in agriculture.

Mayor Romualdez earlier accused the national government of engaging in partisan politics by failing to conduct rescue operations immediately after super typhoon “Yolanda.  At the post-disaster assessment held at the Philippine Senate, the beleaguered official of Tacloban City said his pleas to deploy more soldiers to the city were ignored despite widespread looting in the city.

Pamalakaya also blasted President Aquino for appointing former Senator Panfilo Lacson as head of the government task force assigned to manage the P 41-billion rehabilitation plan in Eastern Visayas region and for authoring an Executive Order that would evict tens of thousands of fishing families in Yolanda stricken areas in Eastern Samar and Leyte.

The group said appointment of Lacson and the EO banning any infrastructures near the storm-surge areas in Region VIII will be cited as grounds for the charging of criminal and other appropriate charges against the President and secretary of the DILG.

The militant group last month pressed Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima to determine the criminal and other civil liabilities committed by the Office of the President and other concerned government agencies in dealing with the humanitarian crisis arising from super typhoon Yolanda.

In their letter to de Lima, Pamalakaya argued that “ it is extremely unpardonable to let go the President, DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas III and their men and free them from any criminal and civil accountability despite the glaring fact that the national government is principally accountable for the devastating impact of super typhoon Yolanda due to grand display of incompetence.

Two days before Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas and 34 other provinces,  President Aquino told the general public that the country’s C130 aircrafts are fully mission capable to respond to those in need, adding that 32 airplanes and helicopters from the Air Force are on standby together with the Philippine Navy’s 20 ships which are positioned in Cebu, Bicol, Cavite and Zamboanga.

The President also mentioned of the standing relief goods, which he said, were pre-positioned in many of the areas expected to be affected by the super typhoon and that councils and committees of the NDRRMC both at the national and local levels were activated to mitigate the effects of the typhoon.

“ Honorable Secretary, these assurances of President Aquino pertaining to government readiness never happened in the immediate aftermath of typhoon Yolanda. The aircrafts were nowhere in sight. The 32 airplanes and helicopters never came in the first week chaotic week of typhoon Yolanda. The ships carrying loads of relief goods only came nearly more than a week after the perfect storm. Everything the President promised was a 99 percent failure,” said Pamalakaya in their letter to de Lima.

Prior to typhoon Yolanda, the situation of the people in Eastern Visayas, the most devastated region is deplorable. Region VIII which compromises the provinces of Samar and Leyte ranks the 3rd poorest region in the Philippines as of 2013. Another region hit, Western Visayas that include Negros, Panay and Guimaras islands, has a poverty incidence of 24.7 % and unemployment rate of 27.8 percent. ###

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