By JORGE MADLOS
It has already been a year since typhoon Sendong struck and brutally lashed against Northern Mindanao, especially against the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan where about two thousand died due to flashfloods and landslides. The pain and the effects of the devastation wrought by one of the worst storms last year, however, continue to linger, because the victims continue to wallow in dire conditions despite the reactionary government’s promise of both housing and livelihood. Still, many of the families and individuals who survived Sendong’s wrath have neither decent homes nor livelihood that can sustain them.
Even after Sendong’s tragic aftermath, the reactionary government has not taken decisive steps to curb the devastating environmental impact of imperialist mining and plantations. With the recent onslaught of typhoon Pablo, the reactionary government has not learned from the painful lessons of Sendong. It continues to play blind to the real reasons of the disaster, blaming the small miners and farmers but allowing the unhampered operation of multinational large-scale mining and plantations that continue to destroy the environment. The wanton plunder of the environment by imperialist industries exacerbates climate change, and hastens the degradation of the earth.
As it has shown during Sendong’s wake last year, disaster preparedness and response on the part of the reactionary government are still visibly inept and inadequate. The victims in areas hardest hit by typhoon Pablo, such as those in New Bataan, Compostela Valley and in Cateel, Boston and Baganga, Davao Oriental, have cried out in anger and protest because of the delay and utter lack of food, medical aid, shelter and the retrieval of missing family members.
Recent reports have it that typhoon Pablo’s casualties have reached over 800, and close to a thousand are reported still missing, possibly exceeding that of Sendong’s bloody record.
Making matters worse, foreign financial aid for relief and rehabilitation has found its way into the pockets of some bureaucrats. Similar to what been done to the victims of Sendong , certain politicians have taken advantage of the situation to use typhoon Pablo’s victims as a showcase to advance their political interests for next year’s elections. The situation is also being used to create a clean image for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) doing “humanitarian relief work” for Oplan Bayanihan (OPB).
Thus, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Mindanao calls upon the victims of typhoon Sendong, Pablo and other calamities to organize themselves to demand what is due them from the national government. They must also challenge the Aquino government to immediately repudiate and scrap state policies that allow the operation of destructive mining and plantation, which clearly aggravate climate change.
For its part, the NDFP-Mindanao shall continue to oppose and punish all destructive mining and agribusiness companies specially those that flagrantly violates the NDFP policies on environment, Lumad, workers and peasants; continue its education information campaign regarding climate change and attendant issues in order to protect our natural resources and the environment; and, help, in any way possible, in the overall relief and rehabilitation campaign in all its base areas affected by the typhoon.
(Sgd.) Ka Oris