Date
18 December 2017
Richard Padelia, his wife Rosanna and two of their four children sit outside their new home in Tacloban. The family used to live close to the shoreline, which the government has now designated as a 'no-build zone'. Photo: Reuters
Richard Padelia, his wife Rosanna and two of their four children sit outside their new home in Tacloban. The family used to live close to the shoreline, which the government has now designated as a 'no-build zone'. Photo: Reuters

Philippines Haiyan suvivors still waiting for help

A year on, survivors of Haiyan, the most devastating typhoon to ever make landfall, are still waiting for help to get on with their lives.

In Tacloban, a city of 220,000 south of the Philippine capital Manila and one of the hardest hit areas, thousands still live in tents or evacuation centers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re still hoping, always hoping. But after a year, we’ve given up expecting,” said Rosita Cabite, who had been promised a new house in a safe neighborhood to replace the badly damaged one she shared with two daughters and two grandchildren.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III approved a US$3.8 billion reconstruction plan to rebuild the shattered typhoon belt during the next two years.

The government said it has already spent US$914 million in Haiyan relief.

Thelma Gandia, a mother of five, is still haunted by the memory of the disaster which struck much of the central Philippines on Nov. 8 last year.

Like her, many survivors in Tacloban complain about months of frustration, waiting for the government to deliver on promises of long-term improvements such as storm-proof houses and durable highways.

The official death toll is 6,340. Most of the 1,061 missing are believed to have been washed out to sea during the storm surge.

Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said that the government is “exerting all efforts to expedite the completion of housing units for more than 200,000 affected families” and appealed for “understanding and support”.

It has taken a year to reach this point because the government needed several months to draft the reconstruction plan and three more months to figure out which government departments would be responsible for its various components, Coloma was quoted as saying.

Yet, there is deep-seated suspicion in Tacloban that official talk of “building back better” will yield few tangible results, the report said.

“Frankly speaking, we are very disappointed with the help we have had from the government,” said Vincent Basiano, a council member of Anibong village, another wrecked district.

Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez submitted a reconstruction plan six months ago but needs Manila to foot most of the estimated US$462 million bill.

Many of his proposals were on hold, pending Aquino’s approval for a national program which incorporates local rehabilitation plans.

The government said it reconstruction can be completed in two years when the program starts to work.

Romualdez has managed to build only a few dozen houses with private financing.

Others are more upbeat.

Aid agency workers said the Philippine government has performed far better than Tacloban’s weary residents give it credit for, pointing to the scale of the disaster and the grim state of the city’s slums before Haiyan, the report said.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RA

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe