Manila (AsiaNews / CBCP) - The government funds for the victims of typhoon Yolanda are not being destined to ongoing assistance, rehabilitation and recovery operations a but to cover the costs of the next general election, scheduled in 2016.
This is the stark warning of Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, who has publically expressed his dissatisfaction with the progress of the rehabilitation work in the affected areas. Almost two years after the tragedy, he warns, many people are still living in poor conditions and the intervention promised by Manila absent.
The priest asked several times: "When will these fundsbe allocated,? Are they waiting for 2016? ". He adds that this delay is unacceptable, when there are still tens of thousands of displaced families waiting for help and assistance in the face of a tragedy dating back to November of 2013.
A recent study prepared by Caritas and other humanitarian organizations active in the areas of the tragedy shows that in March 2013, only 73.15 billion pesos were spent of 170 billion allocated. And in 2014 only 2.6 compared to the 26 made available to meet the social needs. And also in other sectors - assistance, reconstruction, infrastructure - the situation is no better.
Fr. Gariguez also laments a "lack of transparency" in the management of funds; he would have liked "clarification" from President Benigno Aquino "in his latest address to the nation", but "unfortunately, this has not happened." An analysis showed that part of the funds for Yolanda were diverted to other disasters like the earthquake in Bohol. This "is a source of further concern," said the priest, and a confirmation of "major inefficiency" of the government.
At the end of 2014 the government had completed only 2,100 new homes for survivors. A number, according to the executive secretary of Caritas, which "is far less than the 205,128 lodgings needed" to meet the needs of the entire population.
The Philippine Church has already committed around EUR 9.7 million in recovery projects, assistance, rehabilitation in favor of more than two million people affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
Haiyan/Yolanda hit the Visayas Islands on 8 November 2013, affecting some 11 million people, in 574 different cities and municipalities. Returning to a normal life has been priced at US$ 8 billion.
Although President Aquino took a conservative line, noting that the first estimates of more than 10,000 dead was the result of an emotional reaction to the tragedy and that the death toll stood at around 2,500, the actual death toll is thought to exceed 5,000.
Assistance has been particularly hampered by the fact that the natural disaster affected a vast area of scattered islands, compounded by specific local difficulties.
In the weeks following the tragedy, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions PIME also launched a fundraising campaign to help survivors.