For Immediate Release
November 8, 2014
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, email@example.com
One year after super typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda) devastated different parts of the Visayas region, little has changed. GABRIELA USA’s member organizations in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York commemorate the lives lost in the typhoon’s wake while standing with survivors to demand justice and state responsibility for rehabilitation and recovery. While there has been a global outpour of support in financial donations and in-kind support in the last year, those who need rehabilitation the most still stand with hands outstretched for relief and assistance. “The Aquino administration’s corruption and mismanagement of public funds continues to expose the president and his lackeys as incompetent with regard to serving the imminent needs of the Filipino people,” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA USA.
Out of the over 16 million impacted by typhoon Haiyan, 80% of which were women and children, little has been done to protect and serve the specific needs of the women and children that remain in Tacloban and Eastern Visayas. Indeed, the exact opposite of safety and security is the situation of many women and children in Haiyan-affected regions as the rate in prostitution and trafficking has spiked because of the lack of opportunities for economic stabilization and increasing U.S. militarization.
According to USAID, 4.1 million people have been displaced since the typhoon. Yet, the Philippine government is imposing demolitions in “No Build Zones”, keeping families from rebuilding their homes and lives while corporations and public private partnerships receive priority in coastal areas. Women who are often those responsible for household management increasingly suffer from the lack of investment in these basic infrastructural necessities.
The Aquino administration has also been remiss in leaving out any type of agricultural rehabilitation for the communities in Tacloban and other areas in Eastern Visayas. Given that most Filipinos in these areas rely on agricultural industries such as rice, coconut and fishing for livelihood, the lack of support to restore and support local industries has devastated Filipinos even a year after the typhoon touched the ground in November 2013.
Activists and organizers in the region have been targeted by the government and the military for demanding justice for their basic rights to food, shelter, services and other needs. Last August, Jefferson Custodio, an activist from People’s Surge, a broad alliance of survivors, organizations and individuals joined together to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan, was killed for speaking out. Others have been targeted since last year’s devastating calamity including impacted communities GABRIELA USA members are integrating with.
GABRIELA USA members and allies are currently participating in the Women’s International Solidarity Mission (WISM) with a theme of “Women Surge! Strengthen Global Solidarity Against Climate Crisis” to investigate the current situation in Haiyan-affected areas and the negligence of the Philippine government in addressing the dire situation in Eastern Visayas. GABRIELA USA members participating in WISM are witnessing peasant communities and women farmers initiating cooperative farms to feed their families and communities. Despite military harassment, repression and ongoing neglect of the government, the people have not seized to seek justice while rebuilding their communities.
“Filipino American women are infuriated at the lethargic movement and neglectfulness of the Aquino regime to develop decent housing, jobs for livelihood, health care and general infrastructure in the Haiyan-affected region,” concludes Francisco. Also, the international solidarity mission seeks to highlight the need for a larger global discussion on climate crisis and the need for international solidarity for those, like Filipinos in the Eastern Visayas region, who suffer from natural disasters such as typhoon Haiyan and continue to be ravaged by man-made disasters like the deficient Aquino administration continue to fail to address the needs of the Filipino people.