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People Surge boycotts forum on Aquino 'Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda'

By People Surge
March 20, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – The People Surge alliance of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors boycott the “Yolanda Transparency Forum” in Tacloban City today, March 20, by the Aquino government and The Asia Foundation. “We have already studied the subject of the forum – the Aquino government's Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) – and we reject it as anti-people, pro-big business, debt-driven and prone to corruption,” said Sr. Editha Eslopor, People Surge spokesperson.

“We caution fellow survivors and friends that we should not legitimize a flawed reconstruction plan and we should guard against those who will attempt to use us to do so. If the Aquino government cannot even do the basics of providing relief operations and other short-term needs of the survivors, how much more for the long-term recovery?”

Eslopor said the forum will be “useless chatter” because the contents of the Aquino government's RAY were clearly against the interests of the people. “For example, the RAY proposes about P18 billion for the recovery of agriculture in all regions affected by Yolanda, when the agricultural damage in Eastern Visayas alone was P65 billion. How would the majority of the people, who depend on agriculture, be able to recover with the scant attention paid to their main means of livelihood?

“The Aquino government also diminishes its efforts and gives undue importance to the private sector involved in the post-Yolanda reconstruction. But it is the national government's responsibility to lead the reconstruction, and in the final analysis, many private companies involved are not in there for humanitarian reasons but for profit. While the government abandons its responsibility, it is thus also giving opportunity for massive corruption to arise among the high officials and the big business friends of the government.”

Eslopor said her group would rather rely on the movement of the people to demand accountability rather than on any pretenses at transparency by the Aquino government. “The accusations of corruption and the complaints by the people who are not receiving aid continue to hound the Aquino government despite its attempts to feign transparency. There is thus no better way for the people except to unite and mobilize to assert their basic interests for food, cash assistance, livelihood and social services. The people must continue to struggle as well for the long-term recovery that genuinely serves their interests in the face of the betrayal by the Aquino government.”