Prosecution Statement at the Open Source Tribunal on the Philippines
Nicolai Church, Utrecht, Netherlands
23 November 2013
By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chief International Representative
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
The Filipino people in their millions, the workers, peasants, urban poor, fisherfolk, indigenous people and other sectors, accuse President Benigno Aquino III of criminal negligence, whereby thousands of lives were lost, millions suffered, tens of thousands injured and more tens of thousands missing, and homes and community buildings were destroyed when Supertyphoon Haiyan struck a wide swathe of Philippine provinces on 8 November.
President Aquino failed to evacuate hundreds of thousands in coastal towns, even when warnings were issued declaring that emergency evacuation was urgently needed. The Manila Observatory issued the warning before typhoon Haiyan struck, that “Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 8 to 16 kilometers of the shoreline may be required.” Aquino’s failure to carry out urgently needed mass evacuation has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. In contrast, Vietnam was able to evacuate 600,000 people in two days just before Haiyan made its landfall in Vietnam.
Aquino neglected to build infrastructures needed to save lives in times of typhoons, floods, and earthquakes which have struck the Philippines with increasing frequency in past few years. Strong underground and aboveground structures should be built throughout the country to provide a safe haven to the people. Sturdy evacuation centers should be made available. There should be warehouses with supplies of food, drinking water, and medicines in the various regions, provinces and districts. Funds for such needed infrastructures have been plundered by Aquino and other corrupt bureaucrats. The bureaucratic scandal has exposed the plunder of public funds running into the hundreds of billions of pesos or scores of billions of dollars.
Aquino did not effectuate a prompt delivery of needed food, drinking water, medicines and shelter. Many affected areas did not receive any relief even one week after the disaster. Aquino did not mobilize ships and aircraft to bring badly needed supplies. Instead he brought in thousands of military and police personnel in am effort to quell the mass discontent.
Aquino even wanted to lower the count of casualties, falsely stating that the death toll would only be between 2,000 and 2,500, while the United Nations early on gave its estimate of a potential death toll of more than 10,000. The Aquino government’s reported death toll.as of November 22 was .5,209, with 1,600 missing. Other sources, however, estimate the missing at more than 15,000.
Aquino’s security and military officials irresponsibly engaged in spreading false information. They reported that a military truck supposedly carrying Red Cross supplies in Sorsogon was ambushed by the New People’s Army. They have also circulated rumors that NPA members are involved in armed looting around Tacloban City and indiscriminately firing weapons in several towns in Leyte. They thus justify the setting of checkpoints and establishing outright military rule.
The Aquino regime is making use of the urgent needs of the disaster victims in order to make the US military forces look like heroes and thus justify the presence of the giant US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Washington, at least six other warships, nearly 10,000 US troops and warplanes in various parts of the Philippines. It has, allowed the US soldiers to take over airports and other facilities.
The most adversely affected by the Supertyphoon Haiyan are the workers, peasants, urban poor, fisherfolk and indigenous people who are already victimized for many years by the exploitative and oppressive semi-feucal and semi-colonial system ruled by big landlords and compradors under US imperialism. Many years of exploitation keep them mired in worsening poverty. Their homes are very unstable and extremely vulnerable to typhoons, earthquakes and floods.
The Supertyphoon Haiyan has exposed the criminal negligence of the Aquino regime which has absolutely no plan to carry out a massive environmental regeneration program to desilt the rivers and other critical water systems and undertake massive reforestation. Instead the Aquino government is bent on bringing in foreign mining companies to continue plundering the environment. It continues to favor large-scale plantations and logging that destroy the environment and render the Philippines even more vulnerable to floods, typhoons, and earthquakes.
For the above-stated proofs of the criminal negligence, large-scale corruption and plunder of public funds, President Aquino must be indicted by the people and held responsible.
The outcry of the people is “Down with the criminally negligent Aquino regime!”