Philippines' typhoon survivors renew call for help

Advocacy groups say government continues to ignore Haiyan's survivors
Philippines' typhoon survivors renew call for help

Farmers who survived Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 join a "dignity caravan" in Tacloban City on April 21 to call on the government to provide additional aid. (Photo by Mel Caspe)

Hundreds of victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines gathered in Tacloban City on April 21 to renew their call for help from the government.

In a "dignity caravan," typhoon survivors from the provinces of Leyte and Samar said they hope "to create enough noise" on issues of land, food, and shelter.

Dhon Daganasol, spokesman of the farmers' group Katarungan, said thousands of typhoon survivors continue to be ignored by the government.

He said the government failed to distribute at least 14,000 certificates of land ownership to farmers, causing a delay in the delivery of government assistance.

Daganasol called on the government to investigate the "anomalous implementation of agrarian reform" that resulted in the undistributed certificates, deprivation of tenants’ rights, land grabbing, and human rights violations. 

Farmer leader Oscar Rodriguez of Eastern Samar said the "slow process" in the distribution of permanent housing units for some 4,798 families in high-risk zones "is indicative of the level of neglect the people are experiencing."

"Staying quiet is no longer an option," said Daganasol. 

A coalition of typhoon survivors has earlier demanded assurance from the government that the houses it has provided will be owned by the people. 

"Families who stayed in crowded bunkhouses were provided houses, but it doesn't mean that their suffering has ended," said Marissa Cabaljao, spokeswoman of the group People Surge.

"There is still no security in the ownership of their house and land," she said, adding that the families will have to pay for the houses.

"Staying there is not for free. After five years, they will start paying rent, and thereafter the amortization will continue to increase," said Cabaljao.

She said if the families do not have sustainable sources of income "they will be kicked out of their houses."

Beneficiaries of the government's housing program will have to pay about US$6 a month after the sixth year. The amount will increase to about US$14 in the 16th year of occupancy.

The families will have to pay monthly in the next 30 years after the five-year moratorium.

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