Update: Death and missing toll from flooding now at 284
Charging that the Philippines government has fumbled the ball in its response to Typhoon Ondoy and the resulting flooding and deaths, two Filipino organizations are organizing an emergency relief fund campaign.
The Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines and the Filipino youth-based Daluyong Coordinating Committee hope to raise $5,000 by Monday and another $5,000 by October 16.
The groups charge that the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has responded with "incompetence and neglect," comparable, they say, to the way George W. Bush handled the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
With maximum winds of 85 kilometers per hour, the storm was not as powerful as many of the typhoons that have hit the country. But by Sunday evening, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported that at least 330,000 residents had been displaced, 73 people had died and 23 more went missing. In the days following the storm, the death toll has risen, including a 4-year-old girl who was killed when a wall, weakened by floodwaters, collapsed on her family's shantyin Quezon City.
Among the examples of inadequate government response cited by the groups is its blaming the public for not heeding storm warnings - even though - they say - no evacuation order preceded the flooding. The also allege that local government units were paralyzed at the onset of the flood and were not able to issue official advisories on what the vulnerable population should do. As floodwaters receded, they say, hundreds were still stranded.
According to the organizations, residents saw overwhelmed rescue choppers leaving many people behind. They say that in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City, the parish priest, Fr. Orlando Noriella, claims that while a state of calamity had been declared, no food and medicines have reached the affected residents and that the government admits that there are insufficent rescue vehicles or facilities.
The groups charge that an "utter lack of preparedness" set the stage for disaster even before the typhoon hit. They say the massive land conversion of the Marikina watershed and the mountains of Rizal put people in imminent danger, especially those living near riverbanks and mountain slopes. Despite warnings by community groups of the danger of high-risk projects, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources did nothing, they say, to put in place protections for residents in these areas.
The groups say the money raised will go to the Sagip-Tulong sa Pilipinas (STP) Emergency Relief Fund Campaign