Public urged to monitor “Ondoy funds”
Manila, Philippines- Highly aware of the high crimes of corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, the activist peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines ) urged the Filipino public to monitor the funds being declared and released by the government for relief and rehabilitation projects for victims of storm Ondoy.
The KMP warned of corruption in government, as the group predicted that Malacanang will use the occasion to rake up public funds intended for relief and rehabilitation of victims of typhoon Ondoy. Citing the recent report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that the P800 million emergency fund that should have been used for disaster-preparedness was used by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on her foreign trips, the group said the public and anti-corruption watchdogs should also watch how the Palace will mobilize state funds and donations here and abroad.
“We should all watch out for corruption by the Arroyo government as it has already been reported that the P800 million emergency fund was used for her trips abroad. Also, we have futile experience with the Dept. of Agriculture (DA) when we asked them of support for our members who became victims of typhoon Frank on June 18, 2008,” according to a KMP statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Pamalakaya Times this morning.
KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said, last year, typhoon Frank hit worst the region of Panay, where it submerged about 80% of Iloilo City , caused the death of 200 and 162 missing. Also the floods affected about 0.25 million individuals or 50,000 families, adding destruction of crops and infrastructure estimated to reach P500 million in Iloilo and P1 billion in the region.
“Because our members were badly hit by the typhoon, especially our regional chapter PAMANGGAS (KMP Panay Chapter), we gambled in inquiring with the Dept. of Agriculture to avail of any emergency resources. DA officials said that the funds were already at their regional field units, but when our members inquired at their offices, they said the funds were still not released,” Ramos said.
In the long run, no member of KMP and of other rural-based group benefited of the said fund.
The DA reported that P95 million worth of agricultural crops in CALABARZON were destroyed where P85 million were rice.
“We believe the damage is bigger for the Filipino farmers. The crops such as rice, vegetables, fruits and more, of our members at Tungkong Mangga, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan were totally destroyed. Also, crops cultivated by our members were destroyed at Sitio Wawa, Bgy. San Rafael , Rodriguez, Rizal,” said Ramos.
KMP also said that the government has “all-excuses” on their approach of rescue operations. Amidst numerous reports on radio since morning, there was still no visible government mobilization and victims were already asking for help, particularly the use of “rubber boats.” Radio announcers of succeeding programs have always tried to contact National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), but failed as lines were busy. About noon, the situation is already life-threatening to the victims of the flood.
Dept. of National Defense Sec. and NDCC Chair Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. was quoted on Saturday afternoon telling people to ride the MRT to avoid being stranded. On early evening, Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte advised people to “self-rescue” or use their common sense. On late afternoon, it was reported that the NDCC held their meeting and by dark reported to have deployed 13 rubber boats for 26 areas of Luzon .
“We see that we are all unprepared for Ondoy. We are on regular monitoring on PAGASA reports prior, but they only warned of a Signal No. 1 typhoon and no qualitative report about the rainfall. Also, the government who has all the resources, where P800 million emergency fund were used by Arroyo on her trips, acted late,” Ramos said.
“The ordinary people who acted courageously to help others are admirable and we sympathize to those who lost their loved ones. The lost of lives should be enough justification for the government and other entities to look further into the slow reaction for rescue operations. Also, we should be vigilant of the corruption that would rake funds that should be used for relief and rehabilitating areas hit by Ondoy,” Ramos called.#