by: May-i Fabros
In the wake of Yoly’s short visit, the extent of devastation remains uncertain as communities far from urbanized areas have yet to be reached. Despite raising the alarm days prior, national and local government, perhaps even the Filipino people at large — we were not prepared for what came. The storm surged and ravished, no, emptied, entire coastal communities. Homes were lost. In Yoly’s wake, countless dead and loved ones missing.
Betting on the Filipino spirit, resilient and trained to bounce back from disasters,
the Philippine government exhorted the Filipino community to survive Yoly. Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras invoked the bayanihan spirit, calling on Filipinos to crack their piggy banks. The same way we all did when he led, successfully, according to him, if you read between the lines, the disaster relief and post-disaster management for Ondoy, Pepeng or one of those crazy ass typhoons where aid just flowed and gushed and streamed in.
Yet, beyond surviving, beyond bouncing from one disaster after another, there must be learning. For if we do the same things over and over, why should we expect a different result? I wonder how this year will be remembered?
Shall we cite in the future the inclusion from the General Appropriations Act of a billion pesos – the amount required by a law passed in 2012 to enable vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change-induced slow-onset and episodic impacts? Yet, despite the passage of Republic Act 10174, popularly called the People’s Survival Fund law (PSF), the truth, thus far, is tragic: there is only a 500 million peso allocation, registered under the budget item “Unprogrammed Funds”, which means it’s virtually nothing, zero, until government decides to declare dividends from its corporations were realized, for reallocation to other activities or pots money, which was what it said it would do last year but which it did not. Because the issue was not deemed important.
Well, 2013 could still be different. It’s certainly far better to say compared to stating that “2013 could have been different, and that lives, dreams and the ability to dream could have survived had the PSF Board been set up and local government units and civil society given the right, the resources, the chance, to prepare for Yoly and the world of ominous uncertainty ahead of us.”
We name storms alphabetically. We could have done good if even before we got to the letter “P”, we released money that communities have been asking for and which they could have used.
Everything we do now is after the fact.
But beyond resilience, we can still evolve. Release the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the PSF law, convene the board and roll out the funds. That’s my simple ask. But I do wonder if the Aquino administration is listening.