A SURVEY company said Thursday President Benigno Aquino III received a “very good” satisfaction rating from areas devastated by super typhoon Yolanda last November, but residents and relief workers from the storm-battered region questioned the SWS findings, with one volunteer describing it as “a travesty.”
The British charity Oxfam said the situation in the Visayas as a “disaster on top of an already catastrophic disaster.”
In a survey conducted from Dec. 11 to 16, 2013, Social Weather Stations said the President’s approval ratings in Yolanda-affected areas reached 73 percent (with a net satisfaction rating of +54), which was higher than his score outside calamity areas at 69 percent (+48).
SWS said the survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,550 adults in Metro Manila (300), the balance of Luzon (300), the Visayas (650) and Mindanao (300).
The President’s spokesman Herminio Coloma Jr. said they were gratified by the survey results.
“It is gratifying that those who suffered greatly appreciate what their President and government have done to ease their pain and alleviate their plight despite the shortcomings and challenges still being hurdled,” Coloma said.
More than two months after the disaster, the British charity Oxfam said the situation has become “a disaster on top of an already catastrophic disaster.”
In Guiuan alone, many relief shelters collapsed under the weight of heavy rain that came last week, and emergency plastic sheets have been torn from shelters, leaving people exposed to the elements, said Oxfam country director Justin Morgan.
“People are struggling to find places that are warm and out of harm’s way,” Morgan said in a statement posted on the charity’s website.
“More were made homeless in the Philippines by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) than by the 2004 Asian tsunami and with only three out of 32 evacuation centers remaining in Guiuan following typhoon Haiyan, this is a disaster on top of an already catastrophic disaster.”
Oxfam said millions are living in dire conditions due to the lack of adequate temporary shelter and are at risk of waterborne diseases and respiratory distress.
Morgan noted that foreign donors have generously committed $331 million to the response but the UN’s shelter budget is severelyunder-funded at 24 percent of what is needed, meaning close to 400,000 people will not receive adequate temporary housing unless more money is delivered.
The government is providing some interim accommodation for people affected but current plans do not come close to meeting the huge number needed.
“Emergency shelters are struggling to withstand the extreme weather we’re experiencing in the Philippines,” said Morgan.
“In one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, it’s critical we quickly provide safe homes and build quality evacuation centers for those continuing to live in dangerous and difficult locations,” he said.
“The government has committed to build better housing than the poor region had before the typhoon hit and these storms show just how crucial it is that they keep their promise,” Morgan added.
Oxfam said there is a critical need for an injection of funds for construction materials such as tool kits, corrugated iron roofs and concrete foundation slabs.
At the same time the government, the United Nations and humanitarian agencies must work with people affected to quickly find and clear safe land for temporary and permanent housing, the charity said.
The latest SWS survey drew angry criticism from residents and their families in Yolanda-stricken areas.
Eden Chua-Peneda, Tacloban City councilor and newly elected president of the Liga ng mga Barangay Federation Presidents of the Liga ng mga Barangay in Eastern Visayas, said that Aquino’s “rehabilitation program is nowhere to be seen” in Tacloban and in the other affected areas.
She cast doubts on the survey’s integrity.
One relief volunteer said she was exasperated by the latest survey finding.
“Social Weather Station (SWS) is the very same polling body that said Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won over Fernando Poe Jr. in the pre-exit polls. What a travesty,” said Krizette Laureta Chu, a young media professional in Manila comes from typhoon Yolanda-stricken Tanauan town in Leyte.
Chu, who has been leading various relief services for her hometown and Eastern Visayas in general, expressed dismay in her Facebook account saying: “SWS sells its results to the company that commissions the survey. Ah, oo nga pala, it was also SWS that said President Aquino’s rating was not affected by his (non) response to Typhoon Yolanda.”
She then challenged the SWS to answer several questions.
“Who are these happy people that are satisfied with the way President Aquino ran the relief operations in Leyte? Where do they live? Are these the homeless living in tents, or the homeless living in those beautiful, international standard-conforming bunkhouses? Oh, maybe they interviewed the starving evacuees! I don’t know, they must have interviewed people in the lap of luxury to get such a high 73 percent approval rating. I’m so curious! Even my rich friends in Tacloban are struggling, so who are happy about the relief operations?”
She also wanted to know what questions were asked, and if they were designed to lead respondents to a particular answer. Were respondents offered biscuits in exchange for answering those questions?
“Who commissioned the survey? A survey in Tacloban is cost-prohibitive. Who paid for the fuel so the SWS employees can go around? Who paid for the car? Who paid for the food that they consumed on the ground, where food is scarce and expensive, especially during the week they went around? Who flew them in or out? Who hosted them during their stay?”
“We need to know just how many fellow Warays are actually ecstatic over the speed with which the bodies were retrieved, relief distributed, and medical assistance given. Not. Seriously,” Chu said.
Meanwhile as residents in the coastal areas were back in building makeshift houses in the same place where the typhoon destroyed their houses, one survivor said they were back because they had nowhere else to go.
“I don’t want my family to continue getting wet in the rain. You can see our situation here. We don’t have a home... I’ll still build a home to house my family,” said former tricycle operator Richard Doring.
“Who knows, what they say maybe nothing but hot air especially since it’s government talking. As long as it isn’t clear where we are transferring, we aren’t leaving”, he added.
Lester Glenn Tabada, another relief worker in the city, expressed disbelief over Aquino’s approval rating.
“I totally disagree with the result. I don’t know SWS conducted the survey, or where they conducted it. I hope they also asked around those who were affected by the storm,” Tabada told the Manila Standard.
In social media, the SWS finding triggered anger and disbelief.
Ju Myl Peterson said: “Who are they fooling! I am from Tacloban and I know what we felt and what we saw. Our sentiments cannot be measured nor be contained in this article on how disappointed and outraged we were on repeated abuse and negligence the national government was to us. The local government is not spared as well since they had some lapses but then we cannot do anything about the typhoon but we should measure them on how they responded.... Without a doubt we were victims of Yolanda and Philippine politics. And sad to say that through three years of Aquino government it has only projected an incompetent and manipulative regime who has no values nor skills to qualify it for public service.”
Nicky Kim said: “Another manipulated survey controlled by our government.”
Billy Gunner posted: “Rigged surveys as usual. I am a victim too and I am very, very, very disappointed at how the government handled the tragedy. This survey adds insult to my injury!”