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Typhoon Haiyan survivors demand land rights

Philippine govt criticized for using much needed funds for housing on less vital projects instead

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Updated: December 15, 2016 04:38 AM GMT
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Typhoon Haiyan survivors demand land rights

Residents of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan hold a protest march in the province of Leyte on Dec. 12. The protesters demanded a probe into what they described as the government's anomalous projects. (Photo by Vincent Go)


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Church groups have backed demands made by survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines for the government to immediately address land and housing rights of disaster victims.

"The church is one with the people who seek immediate implementation of steps to help the Haiyan survivors," said Father Chris Militante, spokesman of Palo Archdiocese.

The priest said the church "also commends the government for its continued efforts to help the survivors."

Some 5,000 survivors of the storm staged a protest on Dec. 12 to express indignation at alleged government inaction over the plight of people in disaster-affected areas.

Haiyan left some 7,500 people dead; 2,000 others missing and thousands displaced when it struck in November 2013.

The protesters called for a review of a US$158-million government project to build a 27-3-km tide embankment supposedly to protect coastal communities from storm surges. 

Typhoon survivors, however, said the project resulted in the delay to resettle people.

Pascualito Ilagan, spokesman of the group Community of Yolanda Survivors and Partners, said what the government provided were "Band-Aid" solutions to the problems of survivors.

Aside from the typhoon survivors, scientists and environmentalists also called on the government to stop building the tide embankment.  

"It is worrisome that a project of this scale and funded with billions of pesos has been rushed, which is likely to pose more dangers than what the project aims to address," said Ricarido Saturay Jr., a geotechnical expert. 

The non-government Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) noted that up to 97 hectares of mangrove forests, swamps, and beach forests would be affected by the project.

"The Leyte Tide Embankment project is not only a waste of public funds, but also a dangerous proposition, out to compound existing hazards for the coastal communities of the province," said Frances Quimpo, CEC executive director.

Quimpo said it would be better for the government to use the project money to fund settlements that are resilient and near sources of livelihoods for people.

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