Post-typhoon humanitarian crisis in the Philippines

This is called New video shows Yolanda’s destruction in Tacloban.

By Joseph Santolan in the Philippines:

Military curfew imposed as humanitarian crisis engulfs Philippines

12 November 2013

A humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions is taking shape in the Philippines in the wake of super-typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines by its local name Yolanda.

Though the current official count of confirmed dead issued by the Philippine government is only 1,774, it is expected that the death toll will be far larger. The estimated figure of at least 10,000 dead in the city of Tacloban alone has not been revised. One million Filipinos are in makeshift evacuation centers.

Large sections of the central Philippines, portions of the islands of Samar, Leyte, Panay and Cebu remain completely isolated. No aid has been delivered to these locations and no count of the dead or damage assessment has been conducted. Officials have stated that it will be months before electric power is restored to the region.

At sundown in Tacloban on Monday evening, over 100,000 people were without shelter, medical care, or basic food or fresh water. Corpses still litter the streets.

Philippine Interior Minister Mar Roxas said that some relief supplies were beginning to arrive at the Tacloban airport, but added, “they could go no farther because debris was blocking the roads in the area.” City residents in the tens of thousands have trudged the eight kilometers from the city center to the airport in an attempt to receive a day’s allotment of food or water. Photos reveal queues stretching out of sight of people looking to receive aid.

Resident Joan Lumbre Wilson described to AFP the daily struggle to walk to the airport for supplies: “We want water and medicines for the injured… They’re trying to drive us away again, back to our places, where it’s too far, and then do it again tomorrow [walk to reach the compound], and it’s not fair on us … We’re already tired, emotionally drained, physically exhausted.”€

As desperation mounts, residents have attempted to locate medicine, food, water and infant formula by breaking into locked grocery stores and malls.

High school teacher Andrew Pomeda told an interviewer, “Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families … People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk…. I am afraid that in one week, people will be killing from hunger.”‘

These attempts to gain basic necessities has been decried by businessmen and by the local government, who have called for the imposition of “law and order” and martial law.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity and a regional state of emergency, both of which grant him extraordinary executive powers. He has used these powers to enact a state of de facto martial law.

A curfew has been imposed on all residents of Tacloban. From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., no one is to be in the streets. Several interviewed residents stated that the curfew was being imposed beginning at 8 p.m., and not at 10 p.m.

It is not clear how residents will stay off the streets in Tacloban, a city where at least 90 percent of homes have been utterly devastated. Aerial photos of poorer neighborhoods in Tacloban resemble photographs taken after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima: nothing stands.

The state of emergency is being enforced by 883 heavily-armed police and 500 military personnel, 169 of whom are Special Forces. These troops were brought to the devastated city in the C-130 cargo planes that should have been used to carry desperately needed supplies.

They patrol the city in armed convoys, which Aquino described as a “show of force.” Philippine National Police chief General Alan Purisima said they “will flood Tacloban with policemen to restore law and order… We assure the people that the government will have full control. The policemen we deployed there should make their presence felt.”

Even in daylight, survivors are routinely stopped, questioned, and frisked on the streets and at military checkpoints throughout the city.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a key ally of the Philippine Maoists, ordered security personnel accompanying trucks and ambulances going to Samar and Leyte to shoot anyone attempting to take relief goods or medicine. He said, “If these people will not listen to your request for them not to touch your group, I order you to shoot anyone who will persist in getting anything from you.”

Aquino has taken over from Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, a nephew of political rival Imelda Marcos, declaring Interior Secretary Mar Roxas a “disaster czar” in charge of local government functions.

Philippine Red Cross head and political personality Richard Gordon admitted to the press that the Red Cross deliberately “slowed the delivery of relief goods” due to the ongoing “looting.” His agency had already ordered 10,000 body bags, but he stated “we do not know how many people have been washed out to sea.”

He also admitted that relief workers had not reached any other towns.

There are very rough damage estimates from portions of the coasts of Samar and Leyte. The town of Guian, population 50,000, is reportedly utterly destroyed. Over 500 people have been buried in a mass grave in the town of Basey. Given the grossly disproportionate ratio of official deaths reported to the estimated fatality count in Tacloban alone, there is strong reason to suspect that the death toll will again skyrocket when contact with these regions is established.

Further, all homes and crops up and down the eastern coasts have been destroyed. It must be feared that survivors in these regions, out of touch with relief workers, are facing desperate conditions, including potential starvation.

The Department of Agriculture published an initial estimate of the crop damage resulting from Haiyan, calculating that P3.7 billion ($US84.9 million) worth of crops were destroyed as of November 10. It stated, “Rice, which is now being harvested, sustained the worst damage, followed by fisheries and irrigation. Other commodities affected were corn, livestock and high-value crops.”

Even before the vultures of international finance capital have begun to circle, others are looking for ways to profit. Wu Mingze, market specialist at OANDA Asia Pacific, a foreign exchange trading firm, stated: “We know that the rebuilding effort is going to cost money, but this cost is going to be beneficial when we talk about the cycle of spending. It’s going to build up the economy even further.”€

In the face of this devastation, Washington has committed only $100,000 in cash aid and, instead of greater cash aid, a convoy of 90 marines. Amid ongoing negotiations about the permanent basing of US forces in the country as part of US imperialism’s drive to encircle China, Washington is eager to exploit every opportunity to place troops on the ground to strengthen its negotiating position.

The devastation wrought by Haiyan is being universally depicted as the tragic, but inevitable outcome of the unprecedented fury of nature. This is a political lie disguised as fatalism.

The Philippines is a country in a precarious geographical position. It is at high risk of volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis. These natural catastrophes happen with a nearly predictable regularity, and humanity has the technological capacity to monitor and prepare for these events and the social resources to dramatically limit their impact.

The dead and the deprived in the wake of Haiyan are the victims not of a typhoon, but of a perfect storm of social inequality. The homes destroyed were built of the materials of poverty, woefully inadequate to the task of weathering any such event. The well-built homes and businesses of the wealthy still stand.

At risk communities should have had well stocked and sturdy evacuation centers at a safe remove from the coast. No such preparations were made.

As survivors desperately fend for themselves, they are flung up not against an unfeeling natural catastrophe, but against the armed might of a state determined to enforce the conditions of glaring social inequality.

“If Not Now, Then When?”: As Climate Talks Open in Poland, Philippines Devastated by Another Storm: here.

Super typhoon #Haiyan should be a wake-up call for climate-change negotiators in Warsaw: here.

Did climate change cause Typhoon Haiyan? There is limited evidence that warming oceans could make superstorms more likely: here.

8 thoughts on “Post-typhoon humanitarian crisis in the Philippines

  1. “Walang Iwanan!” (Don’t leave us out in the cold)


    11 November 2013

    Dear Friends and Compatriots,

    Super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) brought unspeakable damage to our beloved country, the Philippines, leaving a tragic trail of death and horrific destruction to several provinces in central Philippines. Up to 10,000 people are believed to have lost their lives, thousands more are missing, while properties lost run into the billions of pesos. Worst affected are the poor and the needy in rural areas and shanty towns, who comprise majority of the victims. They don’t have any means to rebuild what has been left of their lives. Worst hit provinces initially reported are Leyte, Samar, Bohol, Palawan, Cebu and Iloilo.

    Those who have managed to survive this worst disaster to hit the Philippines are now desperately struggling to find food, water and shelter in the uncertainty of days to come. Families continue to search for their missing loved ones.

    Many Filipino migrants in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, have reported missing family members in areas and communities devastated by typhoon Yolanda.

    We appeal to you for your humanitarian help. Please don’t leave our people out in the cold. Together we can do something to help the victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda.

    They desperately need OUR support. Make a donation/contribution to help the victims and support relief operations. You may send to the following bank account:

    NL83 INGB 0007 4009 84, Stg. MIGRANTE-Europe, Amsterdam

    MIGRANTE- Europe takes the lead in OPERATION SAGIP -MIGRANTE, the international relief effort of MIGRANTE International, here in Europe.

    All donations from Europe will be collected into one amount that will then be sent to MIGRANTE International, Bank of Philippine Islands, Account No. 001994-0628-04 BOPIPHMM.

    The sooner we hear from you , the sooner your contribution can help save lives.

    Together with other concerned organizations and individuals, Stichting MIGRANTE Europe is initiating a fundraising campaign, which aims to raise some amount to help in the urgent task of relief and rehabilitation.

    Other activities have been initially lined-up for this campaign. We look forward in cooperating with as many concerned institutions, organizations and individuals as possible. We also enjoin you to support and participate in these activities in solidarity with our efforts to HELP THE VICTIMS OF TYPHOON YOLANDA.

    We will make sure that whatever amount/funds we gather, will be sent to the victims, particularly the poor and the needy.

    We would like as well to express our thanks to the European governments and organisations for their donations to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. We hope that they will be properly used for direct relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

    Thank you in advance for leaving no one out in the cold! As we say in Filipino: “walang iwanan”!


    Grace Punongbayan

    Stichting MIGRANTE Europe

    Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam


    Mobile: (00-31) (0) 6 330 56 411



    MIGRANTE-Europe in cooperation with partner organizations launches the following activities to help victims of typhoon Yolanda.

    1) RELIGIOUS MASS/SERVICE. “Day of Mourning, Condolences and Comitment to Action” to mourn the dead, to pray for the survivors and to pledge commitment to help the victims of Typhoon Yolanda;

    Initiated by: Filipino Parish- Netherlands, Old Catholic Church, MIGRANTE-Netherlands

    Date: 17 November 2013, Sunday, 2pm – 4pm;

    Place: Chapel, Fred Roeskestr. 103. Take Tram16/24 (VU) or bus 170 (Uithoorn) from Amsterdam CS. Stop Ijsbaanpad

    Committed to attend: Jovigailian Photo Studio, Linangan Cultural Network, Sir Nico Guesthouse, Amsterdam for Holiday, and other Filipino organizations and establishments.

    Officiating Pastors: Rev. Fr. Peter-Ben Smit (OCC) and Rev. Cesar Taguba (UCC)

    2) YOUR PHOTO to help the typhoon victims project

    Concept: In exchange for your donation, you will receive a free service, of quality studio photos of yourself.

    Initiated by: Jovigailian Photo Studio,

    Place: Migrante Europe office, VKG, Wibautstraat 150, Amsterdam.

    Date to be arranged.

    3) BUS TOUR to Bataviastad.

    Proceeds will go to the campaign.

    Initiated by: MIGRANTE-Netherlands

    Date and place to be announced.

    4) CULTURAL EVENING in support of relief and rehabilitation efforts.

    Initiated by: Linangan Cultural Network, MIGRANTE- Netherlands

    Time and place to be arranged.

    4) PAMASKONG HANDOG ( a Christmas Gift ) for the typhoon victims

    Initiated by: Filipino Parish-Netherlands, Migrante Netherlands,

    Date: 15 December 2013

    Place: Old Catholic Church, Social Hall, Ruysdaelstr. 39,Amsterdam

    5) The FILIPINO PARISH in the NETHERLANDS (FPNL) will make its own appeal to the churches in the Netherlands. Donations may be remitted to the bank account of the Old Catholic Church.

    Let us join hands in saving lives. We look forward to working with more organizations and individuals in these coming days. Write or call us at +31. (0) 6.330 56 411



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