Yolanda survivors, now climate change refugees, demand justice
MANILA, Philippines – About a hundred survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and members of militant groups marched to Mendiola on Saturday, November 23, demanding “food and livelihood for the survivors in the Visayas and justice for the victims of the extreme weather event."
The protesters took to task the Aquino administration for what they considered slow and incompetent disaster response of the national government. They also expressed fear that the billions of dollars worth of donations will not reach the intended recipients in disaster-hit areas.
“We all know how big the relief funds are. Hopefully, they are in good hands. But it’s a big question mark where the money will go,” said Deirdre Evans Tisado, a Yolanda survivor from Barangay Kasagkahan, Tacloban City.
Malacañang has vowed transparency in the accounting of foreign aid. It has put up a website where the public can monitor the funds that go through government agencies, specifically the social welfare department and the Office of Civil Defense.
As of November 20, foreign aid has amounted to US$256.3 million. They mostly will go directly to international aid organizations, and not through government. (READ: Foreign aid: Process from donor to beneficiaries)
Hailing from one of the hardest hit coastal towns, Tisado is calling for the immediate rescue of people affected by Yolanda, as well as the swift delivery efforts in the Visayas, particularly in remote areas.
She also called for a more organized mission, where relief goods will be equitably distributed among survivors, especially those who are still suffering and remain stranded in their respective towns.
Tisado, along with her 4 siblings arrived in Manila on Friday, aboard the C130 cargo plane. She said they waited for two days at the San Jose airport before they were airlifted to Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. She said the Philippine military ignored them, and only a US serviceman attended to them.
“It’s a miracle that we survived. What we went through was unbelievable,” she said.
They sustained various injuries, including cuts and bruises, but all 5 siblings survived the storm surge by floating through the 17-foot high raging water, alongside debris and dead bodies. However, people at the ground floor of the evacuation center perished. Their estranged father, Ralph Tisado, is sill missing.
They are now staying with a relative in Manila.
“We are thankful a lot of people have helped. But there are a lot more people who need your help.” Tisado said. – Rappler.com