The National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao commiserates with the victims of supertyphoon Pablo and calls for the massive rescue, relief and rehabilitation assistance to the more than 160,000 people affected by the December 4 tragedy. The NDF has also urged its allied revolutionary organizations to raise funds, seek donations and contributions for the victims.
As the typhoon’s death toll and the casualties near to a thousand two days after the typhoon, no relief operations have arrived in the towns of Boston, Cateel and Bagangga. Search and rescue operations have not extended into far-flung barangays in Monkayo, New Bataan and Compostela towns in Compostela Valley province. Roads have not yet been cleared of felled trees and structures and bridges are still destroyed, preventing precious relief goods from being accessed by the victims. Accessibility to damaged areas have been limited to poblacion areas in Comval and Davao Oriental provinces.
The inaction and incompetence by the GPH in the face of this tragedy, is foreshadowed by the pronouncements of the reactionary environment and disaster officials who have blamed affected residents for their “complacency” and failing to heed the state’s warning and earlier calls for “preventive evacuation.” The reactionary government also point to rampant small-scale mining and logging in the affected areas—areas which were considered already “disaster-prone” in the state’s so-called geo-hazard map. It was an old script taken out the Sendong tragedy: denuded forests plus failure of the people to relocate aggravated the impact of a natural calamity. It was a ready, convenient answer by a government that has failed in putting into place sufficient preparations and responding to the needs of its people.
The ineptness highlights the vast irony: poor disaster-preparedness by a state that looks upon Comval and Davao Oriental as resource-rich localities in the country. Nowhere can we see the hundreds of million of pesos of taxpayers’s money out of Comval’s mining, agribusiness and Davao Oriental’s logging resources working for the victims of this calamity. Local capitalists and foreign large-scale mining salivate over the estimated 189 million metric tons of gold deposits mostly found in Mt. Diwata and nickel deposits of 490.7 million metric tons in Comval and Davao Oriental. And yet, as tragedies strike the resource-laden but poor communities, all the government can do is to deliver piecemeal assistance. Despite the billions of pesos allocated by the US-Aquino regime in AFP modernization, in the implementation of the fascist Oplan Bayanihan, and in disaster-related technological upgrade, the high-tech gadgets have failed to save the lowly peasant families, the families of small-scale miners and the ordinary banana plantation workers.
As the revolutionary forces help in the relief and rehabilitation, the people, including the families of the victims of the calamity should struggle to hold accountable those responsible for the loss of lives and property. The grave losses suffered by the people highlights the need to stop environmental plunder by indiscriminate large-scale mining, expanding large-scale plantations, and logging operations that are being abetted by the US-Aquino regime’s pro-capitalist economic policies.