RUBI DEL MUNDO
Spokesperson, NDFP Southern Mindanao Chapter
The survivors of Typhoon Pablo must unite with the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in the face of the Aquino government’s blatant ineptitude, corruption, state neglect, and the worsening crisis of the semi-feudal economy. The Filipino people cannot simply rely on the spin of Aquino and Aquino’s men, as well as from debt-laden imperialist donors. While reeling from their loss, Yolanda victims have only to look at the experiences of disaster survivors in Southern Mindanao to learn that only through militant struggle and revolutionary perseverance can they survive the nightmare of Yolanda.
Nearly one year after Typhoon Pablo walloped the vast forests and farms of millions of indigenous peoples, peasants, banana workers and other agricultural workers, Typhoon Pablo survivors continue to wallow in utter poverty and oppression. Pablo victims in many of the revolutionary base areas have only received scant relief goods from the Aquino government, under conditions of unrehabilitated farms,roads and infrastructure. The relief goods were sparsely distributed over delayed periods of time. Worse, some of the relief goods and rehabilitation materials like galvanized steel were maximized and utilized for political patronage in the recent barangay elections.
The scanty relief goods and an even pitiful rehabilitation program for Typhoon Pablo worsen the already dismal situation of peasants. Because of the inherent problem of nonexistent government subsidy for agricultural production and because of usury, the lives of Typhoon Pablo survivors remain as miserable as ever.
Some have received vegetable seedlings but because of the lack of government subsidy and support that could have increased farmgate prices, income from these farms are virtually negligible. They could not earn much out of the dirt cheap prices of their produce. For instance, how can a peasant’s family earn with a PhP1.00 per kilo of squash (US$0.02 = PhP1.00)?
Others who have made use of paltry incomes derived from cash-for-work schemes and small capital intended to rehabilitate their damaged farms are confronted with the ancient problem of usury. Loan sharks and small commercial traders and landlords exploit the niggardly situation of poor peasants and tenants who are made to survive Pablo with increased land rents and high interest financing schemes.The usurious schemes thrive under the very noses of local reactionary functionaries and bureaucrats who, ironically, boast of and falsely peddle that they are helping Pablo victims.
The reactionary government and its local functionaries ignore the deteriorating conditions of the peasantry while abetting this wanton crisis of feudalism in the Typhoon Pablo-hit countrysides. Customs officials are reported to exact bribes so that imported relief goods sourced out from well-meaning independent donors can be released to Typhoon Pablo victims.
Oplan Bayanihan military operations and its attendant human rights abuses also aggravated the sad state of relief and rehabilitation in Typhoon Pablo areas. At the onset of Typhoon Yolanda, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Aquino regime singled out looting as the very reason for their deployment of military troops and the military-led disaster agency to supposedly restore normalcy amid chaos. Hungry Typhoon Pablo survivors were also looked upon as thieves over their own lands when they took what they can when Pablo disaster struck and when, two months later, they confiscated undistributed relief goods at the Department of Social Work and Development.
Indeed, this is a government that would rather ignore disaster preparation, comprehensive relief and rehabilitation,and genuine land reform. This is a government that would rather resort to shooting the dispossessed and surviving people, and consider itself blameless.
Hence, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao calls for a united front of Filipino disaster survivors to remedy their abject suffering. Then and now, revolutionary forces and the masses persevere in rebuilding their lives and their lands. Survivors in Eastern Visayas must unite with Southern Mindanao survivors, along with other disaster victims nationwide to struggle against the US-Aquino regime’s criminal negligence and fight for freedom from oppression and exploitation.