Damage Control

After the unprecedented onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on the hard-hit regions of Eastern Visayas particularly on the provinces of Leyte and Samar, joint salvage efforts by the local government units and the international humanitarians for the storm survivors is downright heartwarming. However, the system of distribution of aid delivery is still not fixed resulting to slow-paced relief operations and adding more burdens to the storm-battered victims.Criticisms on the slow progress of delivering assistance to the traumatized and hungry Filipinos down south has already been brought up to the Malacañang Palace by the public as well as the local and international media. But Palace officials, for unknown reasons, have continually deflected this issue. According to the Department of Interior and Local Government, they are currently investigating on reports that some local government officials including some mayors and officials of villages are allegedly involved in hoarding relief goods meant for the typhoon victims. But this concern backfired at the agency when DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, also a leader of the ruling Liberal Party, has been accused of playing politics in the early stages of relief work for victims of Yolanda in Tacloban, a city ruled by Mayor Alfred Romualdez belonging to the rival political party of LP, the Nacionalista Party.

Leyte’s fourth district representative Lucy Torres-Gomez said that politics and inefficiency have gotten in the way in providing relief to as many people as possible. Gomez also blamed poor logistics and insistence of some government officials to stick to bureaucratic processes despite the desperate situation for the poor relief effort.

Apparently, no thanks to some local government officials, the typhoon victims are suffering even more that they have expected. The typhoon has already taken so many lives and to risk more lives fighting for survival in exchange for mere selfish political interests is condemnable. These people should be ashamed of themselves of bringing much horror to the already tragic scenario at hand.

Reports of sporadic incidents of riots and looting have been also recorded, including the intrusion of a rice warehouse that left eight people dead and experts warn these could escalate if the root causes – loss and helplessness – are not addressed. According to Annabelle de Veyra, chief administrator of the Health Department for the region, they are worried that there will be anarchy all over if this could not be resolved immediately.

As of November 30, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council have recorded 5,632 people dead with 26,136 injured and almost two thousand people are still missing. The total cost of damages was estimated at over P30.6 billion which includes P15.6 billion from the infrastructure damages and over P14.9 billion from the agricultural damages. These statistics grimly shows that massive cost of damages tends to overwhelm just as the number of casualties continue to rise to a tragic ascent.

The typhoon affected over 10 million people in 57 cities and 44 provinces leaving to rust and rubbish their ravaged houses into the evacuation centers and some, out of desperation, boarded the Philippine air force C-130 cargo planes to fly out of the province to go to Manila in their exodus unsure of what and how will they mend their lives in another dwelling place.

There is no doubt that these staggering numbers, as the days and weeks goes by, will further balloon into a more cataclysmic reality of how the typhoon inflicted widespread devastation to our fellow countrymen. In spite of this, the strength of the survivors to have look down the corpses of their love ones, to have almost crawled and walk like zombies because of hunger, to have sleepless nights thinking no less than of a brighter tomorrow, and to still battle their way to survival every waking day despite the minimal help their getting is truly remarkable. But what are they receiving in return? Are our government officials really this cold-hearted to let this kind of torment pass by?

Still, the ever resilient Filipino spirit will never be dampened and that with each rebuilding process, a renewed and firmer citizen will emerge. Just like a phoenix, these provinces will rise from its ashes and as always, overcome its past wounds and adversities.