PHILIPPINES: Visiting UK parliamentarian reports ‘sad, frustrating’ 100 days after Haiyan

Friday 28 February 2014

Date: 22 February 2014

Type: News

Source:Bulatlat

Keywords: Typhoon Yolanda, Typhoon Haiyan

“Everywhere else in the world, when there is disaster, people ask for food. But in the Philippines, farmers are asking for seeds! The fiherfolks are asking for boats! They don’t want to depend forever on foreign support. They want to rely on their own strength and this is truly inspiring.” – Lord Jack McConnell, member of the UK House of Lords

By MARYA SALAMAT Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A visiting parliamentarian from Europe found the situation 100 days after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) “sad and frustrating.”

While acknowledging that efforts have been made to help the people there, Lord Jack McConnell, a former First Minister of Scotland and presently a member of the UK House of Lords, noted “three problems” at the area of devastation. These problems include:

(1) shelter – because “when hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed, “these should be replaced quickly;”

2) situation of farmers, more particularly the coconut farmers , their livelihoods being “completely destroyed.” McConnell said there is a real need not just to support them but also to help them grow crops. He mentioned the provision of seeds, for example. He said they should have more cash crops.

3) communication – while McConnell admires the “strength of spirit” of Yolanda survivors, he said “the one thing they don’t have at the moment is information that changes are forthcoming.”

“Everywhere else in the world, when there is disaster, people ask for food. But in the Philippines, farmers are asking for seeds! The fiherfolks are asking for boats! They don’t want to depend forever on foreign support. They want to rely on their own strength and this is truly inspiring,” said McConnell.

Frustrating slowness of government agencies

In his community consultations in Tolosa, Leyte, McConnell noted expressions of frustration “about the very slow response from different (government) agencies despite so many requests and submissions of their post-disaster needs assessments.”

In Metro Manila, representatives of Yolanda survivors who came to bring news of their real situation 100 days after Yolanda, shared similar stories as what McConnell related from his visit. But in separate statements, the Filipino survivors expressed not only frustration but mounting anger over the government’s rejection of their petition for immediate relief and inclusive, real rehabilitation.

Lord McConnell also met the mayors of Palo, Toloso and Tunga towns of Leyte last weekend. He noted the difference in the pace of responses and levels of recovery efforts in the three municipalities, similar to what the members of People Surge, an alliance of Yolanda survivors, referred to as “color-coded” politicking.###

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