Friday, February 6, 2015


The latest news coming out of the Cebu long awaited government response to help the Yolanda survivors in Bantayan, Cebu whose houses were badly destroyed/damaged by the super-typhoon proved to be miserably ill-planned, coldly unresponsive and mostly inadequate to help the crying needs of the people. Out of the total 17,650 household beneficiaries listed to receive assistance from the government right after the typhoon devastation which took place in November 2013, the unbelievably shortsighted government response reduced it to merely 40 percent of what was originally asked as only 7,060 households appear to qualify based on the restrictions that the DSWD imposed. Policemen, teachers, OFWs, and all those earning monthly income of P15,000 and above are declared not qualified to receive government assistance. And besides, those found still living in areas considered as "danger zone" are also not qualified. (The government has declared the area - 40 meters away from the shoreline - as "NO BUILD ZONE."

Many LGUs complained to that government declaration as it disqualifies millions of our people, not only in Bantayan but all  throughout in Manila and elsewhere where lots of our people live near the shoreline as it is directly connected to the kind of livelihood they engage to make a living). Bantayan Mayor Christopher Escario disclosed that most of his people lived in "danger zone" because they rely on fishing to make a living. And there is a limited area available considered as not within in the "danger zone" which made the criteria adopted to give assistance as indiscriminatetingly absurd and inappropriate as only those who do not fall under the government restriction can receive assistance even if they actually suffered heavy losses for the destruction of their houses.

What makes the government response in giving their "very late assistance response" to the people in dire need right after that massive destruction of their houses is that it only serves to "rub salt to their wounds" as many of those who badly needed help are disqualified by the unreasonable government restrictions. The total amount of P375.88M is now greatly reduced to P143.93M; the total original houses listed as destroyed/damaged was 17,650 households and now reduced to 7,060 households. Bantayan Mayor Christopher Escario said he received text message yesterday (02/04/15) from DSWD that the P375M ESA (Emergency Shelter Assistance) check is in the regional office in Cebu City but only P143.93M is available for distribution.

During the 888 Forum last Feb. 3/15, Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr., Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana and Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro shared Escario's observation that if they stick to their list of beneficiaries in distributing the ESA they would go to jail. Bantayan Mayor Escario has decided that he will let the DSWD people do the distribution themselves as he believes it will only serve to create chaos in the distribution as more Yolanda victims with houses destroyed will complain why they have been disqualified.

Footnote: This comment came out in connection with a news report in Sunstar, entitled, "Many Yolanda survivors 'not qualified' to receive shelter assistance." It came out on 02/05/15. At this juncture, it would have been the duty and responsibility of Gov. Junjun Davide to make representation to the P-Noy administration in Manila to make the "emergency shelter assistance" fair and just to the Yolanda survivors. But so far, no report from the media is in the news to get the side of  Cebu Governor Davide.

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