By Diwata Marbella,Gerry Albert Corpuz and Ella Mae FranceMANILA, Philippines- The fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Saturday welcomed the decision of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for directing members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to assist victims of mass flooding in Eastern Visayas and other calamity disaster areas in Caraga and Bicol regions due to non-stop rain since the Christmas holidays last year.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap the decision of the CPP leadership to prioritize disaster and relief operations in calamity stricken areas is highly commendable given the severity of the damage wrought by recent disasters on the masses, particularly the farmers and small fisherfolk in affected regions all over the country.
“In behalf of the national leadership and mass membership of our organization, we send this note of gratitude and thanks to the CPP and NPA leadership for mobilizing their Red fighters and mass organizations in assisting victims of heavy rains and mass flooding over the last three weeks. We hope the reactionary government and reactionary army of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will do the same in the interest of 95 million Filipinos,” Hicap said.
The Pamalakaya leader said while the CPP and its armed wing are expected to help in assisting victims of calamities, it is politically, objectively and morally correct to recognize their efforts.
In an emailed statement sent to media last week, the CPP had called the NPAs and mass organizations to give priority in giving priority to provide assistance in disaster relief operations in areas affected by floods and landslides.
In an e-mailed press statement issued by CPP information bureau last week, it was learned that the members of the New People’s Army and its mass organizations were directed to give priority to providing assistance in disaster relief operations in areas affected by floods and landslides.
“Given the severity of the damage wrought by these recent disasters upon the masses, the revolutionary forces in flood- and landslide-affected areas are prioritizing disaster and relief operations in order to ensure the safety of communities and help affected families recover from the calamities,” the CPP said in a statement.
“We hope the AFP will do the same. It should allow disaster relief operations in flood ravaged areas to proceed instead of exploiting the situation to attack the people and launch unjust war under Oplan Bayanihan,” said Pamalakaya.
P 21-B cash transfer
Last week Pamalakaya urged President Aquino to immediately re-channel the P 21-B Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) fund to regions hardly affected by heavy rains and floods that had spread to Western Visayas region.
Pamalakaya said the P 21-B CCT fund should be used to address the immediate and rehabilitation needs of farmers, fisherfolk and other rural people in affected areasin Caraga, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Bicol and 5 more regions all over the country.
“The P 21-B alloted for CCT projects can be used to fund relief and rehabilitation efforts in 9 regions and 23 provinces hardly hit by heavy rains and floods over the last three weeks since December last year and the oversight committee created by Congress should monitor and supervise the disbursement of these funds to frustrate corrupt government officials from exploiting this misery and make money for themselves,” the group said.
The group said the P 21-B CCT fund can be allocated for quick relief operations and rehabilitation projects to enable devastated farms and fishing communities to immediately recover and resume the wheel of production in ravaged areas.
“We are running out of time. There is a strong sense of urgency here and Aquino cannot dilly dally or play it by ear. He should mobilize all available state resources to make sure all concerns are addressed properly and appropriately,” added Pamalakaya.
Quoting the latest bulletin from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Pamalakaya said the misery brought by heavy rains had engulfed the provinces of Samar and Negros Occidental raising the death toll to 40 beginning the Christmas season last year.
1 million people
Pamalakaya said more than 1 million people have been affected by floods and landslides caused by heavy rains and mass flooding in three regions. The NDRRMC said landslides and floods affected 213,264 families or 1,120, 685 people mostly farmers and small rural producers. Of the eight affect regions, Caraga is the most affected with 112,096 families or 601,804 people. The impact of heavy rains and mass flooding in Negros Occidental and Samar provinces has yet to be accounted.
In Eastern Visayas, floods and landslides took their tolls on 35, 463 families or 185,675 people, while in Bicol region, the disaster agency said 37,514 families or 191,777 people were affected.
The NDRRMC said damage to property estimates stood at P747 million, including P174 million in agriculture, P574 million in infrastructure, and P31,300 in private property. It said damage to agriculture posted in Eastern Visayas — Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Leyte was pegged at P46.230 million, while agricultural damage in Albay and Sorsogon totaled P17.408 million.