'Undecided voter': Cebuano millennial on improving disaster response
CEBU CITY, Philippines - The government should reach out to people and immediately provide aid especially in times of calamity.
This was the plea of 19-year-old Rowinmar Espinosa after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit their hometown, Bantayan Island, almost two years ago.
The aftermath caused by the typhoon not only harmed them physically. It also affected their source of revenue. Espinosa’s parents had been selling seafood as their main source of income for decades.
“Ang pagpaninda og isda maoang among source of income ug naa’y epekto sa negosyo tungod sa Yolanda. Wala sad gyod katinda sila ni mama ug papa pila kaadlaw,” she shared. (Selling fish was our source of income and Yolanda affected our business badly. My parents weren’t able to sell fish for weeks.)
Bantayan Island was one of the areas hardest hit by the super typhoon. The island was isolated for weeks before response came in 2013. Espinosa also shared how the super typhoon affected the community. (READ: Her name was Yolanda)
“Kahilakon ko magtan-aw sa mga balay ug sa mga tao. Ang mga nawong man gud sa mga tao ato bug-at na kaayo sa kasing-kasing. Apan bisan pa man nagpasalamat gihapon konga safe akong pamilya,” Espinosa said. (I almost cried when I saw the people. You can see on their faces the burden that they have been carrying. Yet, I’m still thankful that nothing happened to my family.)
She also recounted how the government responded to them after the calamity struck, adding that while they were given aid, the services were inconsistent and delayed. (READ: Pro- or anti-environment: What can we expect from presidential bets)
“Dili stable. Yes musupport sila pero murag kadiyot ragani,” Espinosa disclosed. (It was not stable. Yes, they did support us but only for a short period of time.)
Climate change and disasters
Espinosa's sentiment is shared by many Yolanda victims in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon.
Because of her experience during the 2013 disaster, Espinosa sees the need for improvement on the way the government responds to calamity. The 19-year-old student from Cebu said that the next president should look into allocating more budget to calamity funds.
“I just hope na ang musunod nga presidente kay muprovide og mas dako nga pondo for calamities and mulihokdayon kung naa may kalamidad, especially to those places nga layo ug lisod adtoon,” Espinosa pleaded.
(I just hope that whoever the next president will be, he/she should provide more budget for calamity funds and to immediately respond during calamities, especially in places that are difficult to reach.)
Who among the presidential candidates take environmental issues seriously? The 5 candidates, based on their platforms, have the following plans on climate change adaptation and disaster mitigation:
- Jejomar Binay - The incumbent vice president has a comprehensive climate change action plan. As vice president, Binay was chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and head of the resettlement cluster for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
- Rodrigo Duterte - As a long-time mayor, Duterte has experience in handling natural disasters, notably Typhoon Pablo which struck the Davao region in 2012. To reduce the country’s carbon emissions, he said he will install state-of-the-art anti-pollution equipment and will crack down on dirty factories.
- Grace Poe - Poe presented a comprehensive action plan against disasters during a Presidential Forum on Resilience. The highlights of her plan include the creation of an independent disaster management agency to solve the coordination problems she says is bogging down current disaster efforts.
- Manuel Roxas II - Handpicked by President Benigno Aquino III to succeed him and continue his programs, Roxas probably has the most experience of major natural disasters among all the candidates. As Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, he was on the ground during landfalls of Super Typhoons Yolanda and Ruby and led relief operations in the storm-stricken provinces.
- Miriam Defensor-Santiago - Like Poe, Santiago wants an independent, dedicated disaster management agency to replace the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. She also put emphasis on protecting women, children, and PWDs. Santiago stands out by emphasizing the need to boost the country’s insurance system – especially for farmers and people living in disaster-prone areas.
While disasters and climate change were discussed during the 2nd presidential debate in Cebu, many were left disappointed that the discussion ended up with mudslinging.
This is why, for 19-year-old Espinosa, no candidate has still adequately addressed disaster response in their platforms.
“Honestly, wa pa gyod ko presidente. But I hope that the next president will be responsive sa needs sa katawhan,” she said. (Honestly, I haven’t decided yet on who to vote among the 5 presidential candidates but I hope that the next president will be responsive to the needs of the people.)
With 2 days left before Filipinos elect their next national leaders, Espinosa hopes that the next president will heed to her and other Yolanda survivors' plea: Don't let the Yolanda tragedy happen again. - Rappler.com
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