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Address woes of Visayas regions and disaster victims, Duterte urged

7 December 2016 No Comment
PRESS RELEASE
07 December 2016
Reference:  ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817) and Rep. France Castro (09209698457)
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ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro express solidarity with the Lakbayanis from the Visayas who travelled to Manila to demand an end to hunger, homelessness, and militarization in their land. The “Tindog Visayas: Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Militarisasyon” is held to urge the Duterte government to prioritize and address the widespread hunger, lack of livelihood, failed resettlement, and lack of sufficient and prompt assistance for disaster victims in housing and agriculture.
“The people of Visayas continue to experience hunger with little to no help from the government. They are now here in Manila to voice out their needs and rights so that government will listen to them,” Castro said.
“We urge the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to redirect government thrusts on disaster resettlement and reconstruction because three years after Yolanda and the major disasters which followed it, we see heightening poverty, reduced yield of farmers, uprooting of entire communities away from their sources of livelihood, to name a few,” said Tinio.
Tinio and Castro said that the Lakbayanis shared first-hand accounts of hunger and joblessness in the regions, largely due to slow reconstruction of industries particularly agriculture.  “Peasant farmers who feed the nation are unable to put food on their own tables and their children are unable to go to school.  Especially in hardest-hit Eastern Visayas, there are still no decent jobs to be found and entire fields have gone bare due to the successive disasters and pests,” said Castro.
People Surge, the group of disaster survivors leading the Lakbayan, estimates that copra production was cut by 75% to 90%, thereby reducing farmers’ income to 50% up to 90%.  Cocolisap, bunchy top, and other pests struck the remaining coconut trees, abaca, and even root crops.
Tinio also cautioned Duterte to consider the homes and livelihood of the people in implementing resettlement programs.  “Government should ensure that resettlement enables the people to live in resilient sites and strong structures and not take them far away from where they get their food and livelihood,” he said.  “It should not unleash the police and DPWH and local officials upon the people to force them to demolish their own homes and prohibit residential structures along coastlines, only to favor corporate infrastructure.”
The solons also revealed that since typhoon Yolanda, promised aid has yet to fully reach intended beneficiaries.  Among these are the aid for housing repair and reconstruction from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) and the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) for government employees, including thousands of public school teachers and employees, and indigents, respectively.  The PSF is managed by the Presidential Management Staff, an office under the Office of the President, while the ESA is disbursed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The Lakbayanis including those from remote areas also allege that assistance and subsidies for seedlings, fertilizer, and farm machinery and services are either delayed by bureaucratic procedure, pocketed, or given to them for a price.
“We demand immediate and complete release of the housing repair and agriculture assistance as well as investigations by the relevant agencies into the delay and denial of aid and subsidies,” Castro ended.  “As these are matters of life and death, this criminal neglect should not happen again.”
The delegates of Tindog Visayas are in Metro Manila until December 10 to hold consecutive protests at and dialogues with various government offices.  The Polytechnic University of the Philippines are housing them.  ###

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