Duterte urged to freeze on projects, policies threatening displacement to ‘Yolanda’ and other disaster survivors

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Map courtesy of Project NOAH
Map courtesy of Project NOAH (file Photo)

By BicolToday.com News Team

LEGAZPI CITY, 10November2016 (BicolToday.com) – Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) called on the Duterte administration to declare a freeze order on all projects and policies that present threats of demolition and displacement of ‘Yolanda’ and other disaster survivors.

The No-Dwelling Zones and the Leyte Tide Embankment project poses threats of displacement to ‘Yolanda’ and other disaster survivors, and must thus be suspended until a program to ensure adequate and climate-resilient homes for the threatened communities is put in place according to the group.

“These measures that are supposed to mitigate disaster impacts of the scale of Yolanda should be subjected to scientific rigor and genuine public consultation or else they should be scrapped. With various climate injustices persisting three years after ‘Yolanda’, it is a welcome reprieve for survivors if threats of displacement are stopped by President Duterte,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

DSWD Secretary Taguiwalo had earlier exposed that 200,000 ‘Yolanda’ survivors were unjustly denied emergency shelter assistance (ESA) from the Aquino administration. They also recently came out with initial findings of an ongoing investigation that revealed serious problems caused by DSWD Memorandum Circular 24 on the distribution of ESA funds.

The Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), meanwhile, said in a housing and resettlement forum held by environment and survivor’s groups last November 5 that it will fully utilize its mandate to deny the participation of the Philippine National Police in demolitions without adequate relocation, and will embark on a massive education drive in urban poor communities on climate justice.

“There are initiatives from agencies such as the DSWD and the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor to consult‘Yolanda’survivors and investigate their outstanding problems. But the DPWH runs counter by pushing through the Leyte Tide Embankment Project even if it threatens to displace thousands and possibly destroy mangrove expanses and other important natural buffers. Meanwhile, government still has no technically sound guidelines in ensuring no-dwelling zones do not displace communities to even more hazardous situations,”Dulce explained.

The DPWH announced earlier this year that it will already begin construction of some parts of the 27.3-kilometer tide embankment project proposed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Aside from presenting socio-economic and ecological risks, however, the project is also in conflict with an existing P38-million mangrove rehabilitation project by the regional DENR office.

“With conflicting rehab programs from the different agencies, it is only proper for the Duterte administration to put a freeze order on supposed disaster mitigating policies and projects that is expected to cause the dislocation of Yolanda survivors. Allow the DSWD, PCUP and other relevant agencies to conclude their inquiries and justly resolve the complaints and petitions of survivors and environmental groups first. The Leyte Tide Embankment Project is in fact being petitioned to have its environmental compliance certificate revoked,” said Dulce.

“In the meantime, the Duterte administration should heed the outstanding and urgent demands of the survivors for sustained aid to communities still suffering from various injustices. They are demanding for the revitalization of adequate food and shelter assistance, and free public services especially for resettlement areas. The often underserved rural communities are also demanding eco-friendly assistance for the post-typhoon outbreak of various pests, as well as the cessation of military combat operations, which are both disrupting their livelihood,” ended Dulce. [BicolToday.com]

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