Fr. SANTIAGO SALAS (Ka Sanny)
Spokesperson, NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
The PhP167.9 billion Yolanda rehabilitation master plan signed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is nothing but “pork barrel” in disguise, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas (NDFP-EV) said today. “The Aquino regime further inflames the Yolanda survivors by dumping on their heads what is essentially a ‘pork barrel’ disguised as a rehabilitation master plan,” said NDFP-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas.
“The so-called Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) will not benefit the millions of people affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). Instead, it is a package of political patronage for Aquino’s big business cronies as well as his political allies who are gearing for the 2016 elections. It is part of the regime’s election war chest.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson said the CRRP by itself is too little, too late and too corrupt. “The CRRP contradicts an earlier government estimate by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the total cost of damages by Yolanda pegged at PhP571.1 billion (US$12.7 billion). The NEDA also said earlier that PhP360.9 billion would be needed for recovery and reconstruction, which is only 63% of the damage assessment. The CRRP signed by Aquino allocates even less government aid. Worse, whatever little the Aquino government deigns to give will not be going to the poor, but for the entrenchment of the rich and powerful.”
Fr. Salas said the CRRP is a bonanza for the Aquino regime’s big business cronies as well as politicians in Eastern Visayas and elsewhere in the “Yolanda corridor” who are close to to the regime. “The bulk of CRRP will go to resettlement projects worth PhP75.67 billion. These will benefit businesses in property development and real estate in two ways. First, they will build the resettlement projects for communities which are targeted for demolition, including 33 barangays (villages) in Tacloban City in Leyte alone. And second, the areas that have been demolished are being eyed as business enclaves for call centers, resorts, casinos, and the like. In Tacloban City and other areas, Manny Pangilinan and Enrique Razon already have vested interests, along with other wealthy families like Ayala, Sy, Gaisano, Aboitiz, among others.
“The other allotments in CRRP will benefit the Aquino regime’s allies in the local government. The PhP35.1 billion for infrastructure, for example, is prone to corruption. Meanwhile, the PhP30.6 billion for livelihood and PhP26.4 billion for social services may be used for political patronage through sham social amelioration programs. For example, the Aquino government’s “cash for work” and 4Ps program have long been used by local politicians to buy votes in their bailiwicks. Moreover, the Aquino government has not been transparent about the actual amount of foreign aid received and distributed, opening room for doubt that much of this went to corruption.”
The NDFP-EV spokesperson also noted the CRRP does not offer anything for peasants who are the majority of those who suffered from Yolanda’s onslaught last November 8, 2013. “According to reports by the Yolanda survivors themselves, the damage to agriculture and fisheries is pegged at PhP144 billion and that is in Eastern Visayas alone –- almost equivalent to the government aid package for all Yolanda-affected regions. The production of coconut, a major crop, will take up to a decade to fully restore. Other crops for commercial and consumption purposes are just barely recovering after being almost totally wiped out, such as bananas, vegetables, and root crops. The majority of Yolanda survivors are on the brink of starvation, but there is no government for them.”
Fr. Salas said the Aquino government’s Yolanda rehabilitation master plan is another disaster that will lead to more suffering as well as fodder for the demand to oust the current administration. “The Yolanda survivors are further inflamed that the CRRP may be the last straw. The Aquino regime is heading for a showdown with the Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas. The people are fed up with the social injustice and corruption surrounding the Yolanda rehabilitation master plan. The Aquino regime is ripe for ouster for proving beyond doubt through its CRRP that it is hastening the rotting of the reactionary ruling system through its ‘pork barrel’ patronage politics.
“The international community should demand accountability from the Aquino regime over the billions of dollars of aid that has remained unaccounted. They should support the struggle of the survivors for justice.
“It is a matter of justice that the people press on with their democratic demands for land, livelihood, financial aid and adequate shelter. The Yolanda survivors and others who survived other calamities can unite to strengthen their struggle for reparations the reactionary government and its US imperialist master owes them. In the final analysis, there can be genuine reconstruction only through winning the national democratic revolution. Only by waging and winning the national democratic revolution can there be a government that does not rely on the “pork barrel” but serves the interests of the people, ensures agrarian reform and national industrialization for national progress, and carry out policies for the protection of the people and the environment so another Yolanda will never wreak such havoc again.”