Former Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday urged the government to immediately address the needs of families affected by the recent Typhoon Odette to prevent what he called a “humanitarian crisis.”
“The pandemic should not be an excuse for neglecting the survivors of Typhoon Odette. While it is true that the pandemic caught us off guard almost two years ago, typhoons occur every year. Government agencies should have learned their lessons from Typhoon Yolanda. There should be no excuses,” Binay said.
“Even during a pandemic, do not leave the victims of Typhoon Odette alone,” he added.
Binay, who is running for senator in May 9 elections, made the appeal as the United Nations issued a call over the weekend for more aid to areas severely affected by typhoon Odette.
More than a month after the typhoon battered parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, the UN said most survivors still do not have access to food, drinking water, and shelter.
Binay said concerned government agencies should address reports of deaths attributed to poor and unsanitary living conditions, especially the lack of access to clean water.
“These deaths could have been prevented with timely intervention,” he said.
“Until now, the affected residents are still struggling to survive. Government needs to act immediately if we want to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” Binay added.
The former vice president said national government agencies should have been prepared for stronger typhoons, after climate change experts named the Philippines as one of the country’s vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Aside from immediate provisions for food, water and shelter, Binay added the government should begin preparing a comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation program for the severely affected areas.
The plan should take into account the need for climate resilient housing, decent and sustainable jobs and livelihood opportunities, support for affected businesses, and other basic needs, he said.
Government agencies should also ensure that all government aid for typhoon victims and for local governments are released and received on time.
For typhoon victims living in government housing projects, Binay proposed the suspension of mortgage payments.
He added that collection of payments owed to Pag-Ibig Fund, GSIS, SSS should also be suspended, or these agencies could declare an amnesty for payments.
The UN said 2.7 million Filipinos were forced from their homes by typhoon Odette, while the International Labor Organization (ILO) placed the number of displaced workers at around 2.2 million.