MANILA- While super typhoon "Yolanda" devastated many provinces in Visayas 4 years ago, rehabilitation efforts are also a tragedy, research outfit IBON Foundation said.
Rosario Bella Guzman, IBON executive director, said disaster response of the past and present administration was not only slow, but also shallow.
According to IBON's research, out of 86 resettlement sites in Eastern Visayas, only 5 have water supply, and 59 have power supply.
Livelihood projects for typhoon victims in resettlement areas only started recently, Guzman said, particularly due to a delay in the release of funds which also affected cash-for-work payments. She claimed these have not been received by victims since 2015.
Guzman also said that their research found that the rehabilitation plan neglected the agriculture sector, which is the primary livelihood and source of income of the typhoon-ravaged region.
Out of 282,000 hectares of coconut plantations, only 41,149 were fertilized anew, according to IBON.
"Lahat ng crops hindi na naka-recover sa pre-Yolanda levels," Guzman said, adding that 53 percent of the farmers also remained landless after Yolanda.
"Acute poverty remains in the region, 39 percent of the population [remains poor]. That's 4 out 10 are still below poverty line," Guzman said.
She lamented how the government seemed to have given up on the distribution of farming tools to the victims.
Owen Migraso of the Center for Environmental Concerns, meanwhile, questioned the P7.9 billion tide embankment project, a 20-kilometer wall that will be placed along the coastal area in three towns, which will also affect Tacloban City, as a defense to future storm surges.
Migraso said housing and needs of typhoon victims should be addressed first before other infrastructure projects. At least 10,000 households will be affected when the project starts since there is no clear and proper relocation for them, Migraso said.
"Marami pang hindi nakakalipat pero ito naging priority ng gobyerno," he said. He added that the infrastructure may be able to stop the water from the sea but there is no clear design on how water—such as flooding from inside communities—will go out to sea.
"Unfortunately, natuloy pa rin sya. Worried kami na yung tide embankment, mag-a-add lang ng disaster risk sa area na yan," he said.
IBON Foundation also expressed frustration over the present administration's decision to rechannel P5 billion of "Yolanda" rehabilitation funds to war-torn Marawi City.
"In 2017, Duterte administration did not allocate anymore for Yolanda" Guzman said, "That's criminal, scandalous, considering both victims, natural or war, are really reeling from poverty and other situation."
Meanwhile, Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis said a class suit is being prepared by victims of "Yolanda" against officials of the former administration.
"More than private contractors, we are looking into the accountability of public officials," he said.
Casilao warned that the present administration will not be off the hook if they continue the failed strategy and mistakes of the past administration.
"Itong current government, kung walang reevaluation sa kanilang strategy they could form part of the accountability," he said.
Malacañang declared Wednesday, November 8 as a non-working holiday in Tacloban, Leyte to give way to activities for the fourth anniversary of super typhoon "Yolanda."
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Filipinos must keep in mind the lessons brought by the tragedy and assured that President Rodrigo Duterte is working to fast-track the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Yolanda-affected communities.
“Yolanda is a story of faith and hope that characterizes our people as it is an account of tapang at malasakit that we must demand from our leaders,” Roque said in a statement.