Death and Survival

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TYPHOON Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) has left the Philippines totally devastated.
With an official death toll of 2,357 (and going up) and 600,000 people displaced—tales of death, destruction and survival have come to light recently as “normalcy” slowly returns to the provinces which suffered the brunt of the tropical cyclone.

Perhaps a side-effect of the Janet Lim-Napoles pork barrel scandal, but the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that most of the donations will not be handed over to government agencies, but instead sent—as directly as possible—to the affected communities.

Worse, there are also reports that US Marines escorting cargoes of relief goods from the United Nations have been instructed not to let Philippine government officials and politicians get their hands on relief goods that are scheduled to arrive in Samar aboard five C130 planes.

Has the image of the Filipino government official gone so crookedly low that he can’t be trusted even during this time of great crisis?

You fill in the answer to this one, reader.

Survivors became increasingly frustrated with the government’s slow response to distribute badly needed food and water. Tacloban City officials have reported that only 20 percent of the typhoon victims have received aid. There have been reports and video footage of near anarchy as some people resorted to looting warehouses and shops to find food, water and supplies. The images are enough to make anyone cringe.

The storm has passed but the death toll continues to rise. Eight people were crushed to death when alleged looters decided to raid a government stockpile of rice in the town of Alangalang, Leyte. In another incident, a homeowner shot and killed a number of persons outside his home thinking they were out to rob him of his food and supplies.

Looters, officials said, should not be treated as criminals since they are just desperate for food and water. It’s all a matter of survival and self-preservation. But what about those who break into ATM machines, are stealing  television sets, chest freezers and small appliances essential for survival? It has also become a field day for common thieves.

President Benigno is embattled as ever, this time fending off supposed false reports on the number of deaths, which was initially pegged at above 10,000. At ground zero, aid workers and survivors are increasingly becoming skeptical of the President’s comments.

They expect PNoy to give it to them straight like the promises of his “Daang Matuwid”.

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