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Heal the people, heal the earth

Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) extends full sympathy to the victims of Typhoon “Pablo”—the families of those killed and missing, the millions suffering from the destruction of their homes and crops, and those still waiting for relief.

PLM demands answers to the serious questions raised by the government’s poor response to the catastrophe: Why, despite the authorities’ warning of the impending disaster, no concrete evacuation plans were in place; the evasiveness about the death toll; the delays in getting food and other supplies to survivors; the diversion of resources to prevent small-scale looting by desperate survivors rather than directly providing food?

That both the death toll and the number of reported missing continued to rise days after the typhoon had passed indicates that the government focused more on political spin rather than on life-saving preparations. The government seemed to think it was doing its duty by having President Aquino appear on TV to tell people they should evacuate. In many affected areas that was all. Geologist Mahar Lagmay said that while most people in affected communities were aware of the danger, they did not know where to go for safety.

Contrast this response with the disaster response in Cuba, which also lies in a cyclone-prone area, but where the UN International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction has noted far lower death tolls. This was achieved by adequate infrastructure, such as buildings and roads; institutionalized and well-resourced response systems, including the ability to activate shelters staffed with trained medical personnel; and the integration of hurricane training into the general education system.

All this reflects Cuba’s socialist system, where meeting human needs is prioritized.

We also condemn the large-scale looting of the Philippines by foreign logging and mining companies which contributed greatly to this tragedy. The government’s condemnation of illegal logging and small-scale gold mining ignores the real culprit. We call for a total ban on logging and mining. Any further logging and mining will destroy what’s left of the ecology.

To start the process of rebuilding, we call on government to implement massive reforestation and develop sustainable crop agriculture that will provide food security for people in the damaged areas and elsewhere.

Lastly, we find it ironic that the devastation in Mindanao came in the wake of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, which again failed to deal with increasing greenhouse emissions by the rich countries. The failed conference locked in the planet for another decade of unchecked gas emissions that bring devastating climate impacts.

While the United Nations has appealed for $65-million aid for Pablo’s victims, we believe that we should not have to beg for charity from the rich nations. We hold the rich and imperialist states of the global North responsible, and we demand reparations and climate justice.

—SONNY MELENCIO,

chair, Partido Lakas ng Masa,

partidolakasngmasa@gmail.com


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