Philippines on its own as foreign military personnel pull out of Yolanda disaster zones

Foreign relief personnel including up to 12,000 United States troops who had participated in the relief effort following the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) are set to pull out of the Philippines soon reports Capt. Rafael Mariano, director of the multinational coordinating center.

“The U.S. was among the first responders here,” Mariano said. “Their unique capability to transport goods is really commendable. Without them, it would’ve taken a longer time.”

The main U.S. role was in restoring a runway at the Tacloban City airport and installing radar so planes could land at night, he said.

Some 150 Israeli troops also have left and British forces are expected to pull out next week, Mariano said.

Philippines bid farewell to the awesome resources of America.

Philippines bid farewell to the awesome resources of America.

This follows the appointment of former Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as the country’s “rehab czar” (that’s right, another “czar”) by President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III in a move regarded as highly politically-charged and one that could possibly dim the prospect of an efficient rebuilding effort in the disaster zones as personal agendas begin to trump the whole point of it all…

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Whoever would be in charge of rehabilitating Samar and Leyte would need the skills of a statesman, as the work involves getting local governments and several turf-jealous departments to work together; the experience of a veteran bureaucrat who can navigate the labyrinth of the bureaucracy and inspire its people to get things done; and the insights of an economist, since the task involves reconstructing the area’s economy.

A police officer for most of his working life, Lacson doesn’t have any of these qualifications, nor experience, and some would even question his expertise in handling an anti-crime organization, or any government organization for that matter.

The curse of a politician is his insatiable thirst to be in the newspapers, and Lacson is slowly fading in the public’s mind, as most ex-senators have. And he doesn’t even have a base in Cavite to become a congressman there. Lacson fantasizes that his being czar for Visayas’ reconstruction would put him back in the newspapers, enough to have name-recall to bid for the vice-presidency in 2016.

Meanwhile, the plight of the victims in the most damaged areas in Yolanda’s path is becoming more desperate. An official damage report coming from the Philippines’ Department of Finance “predicts up to 10 per cent of the affected provinces’ 2014 GDP will be wiped off the books, taking about 1 percentage point from the national GDP estimate of 7.3 per cent to 7.5 per cent.” Asia Development Bank economist Joseph Zveglich noted that considering how a weaker typhoon that hit Mindanao in 2012 “shaved” 2.9 percent off the Philippine economy, the effect of Yolanda could be anywhere from 2.5 to 5 percent of the GDP. “You have to look at the loss of livelihoods, the devastation of farm areas and the lack of production. During reconstruction, resources are also going to be stretched, and there is only so much internal capacity. There has to be an international response,” adds Zveglich.

Clearly, there is no room for a less than world-class effort to rebuild the central Philippine regions most affected by the storm devastation. Corpses remain scattered all over the place adding to the festering feeling of loss, desperation, helplessness, and resentment over a government — and society — largely inutile in times of crisis. Noted sociologist Michael Tan described the dreadful and utterly crushing effect of these scattered human remains on the psyche of the disaster survivors…

In times of war, corpses left in the streets represent a defeated army, a vanquished people unable to bury their dead because they are still trapped by fear and overwhelmed by their own need to survive. The victors in wars know how important it is to keep the corpses out and unburied—daily reminders of defeat. In many cases, the corpses would not just be left in the streets but were put up for display with the grim message: “This too will be your fate if you resist us.”

The corpses become part of a systematic reign of terror, as the victors plunder and pillage. Rape, too, of both women and men, becomes an important tool of asserting one’s domination over a people, as well as of spreading fear.

In Tacloban there was no war, no enemy, but the corpses were devastating for other reasons. Each day the corpses remained in the streets created more resentment, fueling the feelings of neglect even after aid began to pour in. Then, too, there were the stories going around, many exaggerated, about looting and rape. In such a situation, the corpses became dreadful omens of bad times turning worse, creating feelings of helplessness and despair amid new dangers, real or imagined. It was not surprising that many of the descriptions of the looters and rapists referred to them as “outsiders,” looking different from Tacloban residents, making it seem like the city had been invaded.

Mass burial of dead left by Typhoon Yolanda

Mass burial of dead left by Typhoon Yolanda

In his latest in a vast string of gaffes since he ascended the Philippine Presidency, BS Aquino reportedly responded to criticism his office has been receiving regarding the snail-paced release of reports of the death toll with this doozy: “It’s because you have to make sure that there is the certification or a coroner’s report before it is made official,” apparently ignorant of the fact that there is no such thing as a Coroner’s Office in the Philippines. Noted forensic expert Dr Raquel Fortun cited this demonstration of the President’s astounding ignorance as just one among other appalling instances of the Philippine government’s ineptitude that left her feeling “burned” from the whole experience of trying to directly contribute to the relief effort.

Fortun and her group started on November 18 but had to pack their bags after five days. This was after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) questioned their mode of identification.

NBI officer-in-charge Medardo de Lemos already apologized, noting it was only a misunderstanding between the two camps. Fortun was with experts from the Department of Health and World Health Organization, while the NBI sought the help of the Interpol.

Considering that the Philippines struggles with disaster First Aid alone spells trouble for the longer-term rebuilding effort ahead. According to a United Nations report, an estimated 11.5 million people are affected by this epic national crisis and that an estimated USD301 million will be needed over the next six months to get the affected people back up to some semblance of normalcy.

Already there are many reports of relief funds and resources being inefficiently allocated, wasted, or even outright stolen. Even as vast sums of money and resources came pouring in to aid the relief effort, the astounding inefficiency of the Philippine bureaucracy was all but fatal so much so as to bring to serious question the recovery prospects of Tacloban City and other affected areas. Columnist Amando Doronila warns that the only reason donor countries have been generous following the Yolanda disaster is “because the Philippine calamity was an extraordinary once in a lifetime event that required massive assistance to enable this country to recover from the havoc wrought on its economy by the typhoon and rescue its teeming poor from going deeper into poverty.” But wealthy countries have long been suffering from “donor fatigue” as evidence mounts that the absorptive capacity of many chronically-impoverished Third World countries are simply not up to scratch even when enjoying access to abundant development funds.

Given the Philippines’ extensive track record of failure to deliver some semblance of decent return on the world’s vast investments in its development even under normal circumstances, it becomes hard to remain optimistic about the recovery prospects of the areas destroyed by Yolanda. Already, there are questions as to what will happen to the tens of thousands of refugees being shipped to Metro Manila. Chances are, many of them will add to the vast squatter colonies that already infest the coastal areas and waterway banks of the teeming megalopolis, further taxing already meagre resources, further infuriating honest taxpayers, and further fattening the Philippines’ portfolio of disasters-waiting-to-happen.

[Photos of US Marine Osprey and Yolanda mass grave courtesy and Globalite Magazine respectively.]

34 Replies to “Philippines on its own as foreign military personnel pull out of Yolanda disaster zones”

  1. “But wealthy countries have long been suffering from “donor fatigue” as evidence mounts that the absorptive capacity of many chronically-impoverished Third World countries are simply not up to scratch even when enjoying access to abundant development funds.”

    This is already very true for a country like the Netherlands. If I am correct then last month the Netherlands collected an amount of Euro 25 million.

  2. So basically Pnoy dictates who will spearhead the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the affected areas? Do the people from those parts have a say on this? They know the area better than a guy from NCR.

    I believe Lacson, a watered-down military guy cannot handle rebuilding the areas. All throughout his political career, I cannot recall anything notable close to rebuilding attached under his name. The only thing comes to mind is Dacer, MMDA… other than that…nada.

    But a more appropriate guy comes to mind… think US bases kicked out and Pinatubo eruption.

    Why can’t the bald idiot keep politics out of the scene even just for rebuilding towns and cities?

    1. Why not Dick Gordon? After Pinatubo eruption, he was able to rebuild Subic and he’s already connected to the Philippine Red Cross.

      1. Exactly, ranliv.

        This country should focus on results instead of mixing politics with everything. It would also be the most appropriate if the local officials themselves are on the helm of this rebuilding.

        1. The politicos should preferably be part of the rebuilding, as in being literally mixed in with the cement and used as building foundation.

  3. Families that had loved ones “disappear” during the late Marcos regime know Panfilo Lacson. Didn’t he head up The cadre of secret police that rubbed out Marcos’s enemies?

  4. another disaster waiting to happen. Why can’t the Phil govt find somebody who is up to the task. This will be a massive task. Better not be another ningas kugon attitude or bahala na mentality. The whole world will be watching. Unfortunately, i will not give the Phil govt the benefit of doubt.

  5. u kno, it is amazing that anyone even bothers donating to the scumbags that run the Philippines. seeing firsthand the way that the funds are dispersed, or even kept away, from those who need it most is sickening. I hope that guy, Emano in CDO, fuckin chokes on a can of sardines after the way he kept was not his after Sendong, a plague on humanity that guy is. The beady-eyed li’l scumbag! drowning in a sea of shit is too good for him.
    So now that the foreigners are leaving what will the powers that be in the Philippines do to help? NOTHING? probably not even nothing! despicable POS!

    1. Parehong kaso sa Haiti, Indonesia, at ibang bansa na rampant ang corruption. Alam ng mga aid agencies na kailangan may binibigay din sa mga bulsa ng mga punyetang opisyal na iyan.

  6. it is time for mayor romualdez to go. kung magmamatigas pa siya, tatagal pa ang rehabilitation ng tacloban dahil sa incompetence niya.

    1. Jeez, why do you insist on pinning the blame on the mayor?
      Did you already forget that your president had basically abandoned tacloban just because it’s not yellow territory?
      Did you already forget how the international media basically exposed your president’s incompetence and his government’s SLOW relief operation?

    2. No, it’s time for Mr. Aquino to GO.
      Your president is too incompetent to govern our country let alone lead it.
      Since you keep showing your retarded face here, it’s very clear that Mr. Aquino is not doing his job since he relies on idiots like you for his propaganda.

      1. Noy resigns, is impeached or gets taken out like his dad, and we have Binay legally taking his place.

        And Binay will likely run for re-election a la GMA, unless they already resolved that loophole.

        1. Man, we’re screwed either way, whether BS P-Noy stays or not, the Haiyan survivors lose. We need to keep the world’s most critical eyes focused on the details of the rehabilitation and relief effort.

          We must be even more vigilant!!!

      2. @ Dodge, yes, you are correct. Until the people realize and do something about what is going on…NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING is going to change.
        You want change? get 300,000 pissed off filipino’s to go to the Senate, while it is in session, and the Palais with another 300,000 pissed off Filipino’s and demand resignations or face treason charges/noose. That is the only way Filipino’s will see change.
        IF that is not done, MARK THESE WORDS, you will get the same shit for another 50 years! bet on it!

        1. @Gerry,

          I totally agree with you. But I never see those 300k people go doing that.

          What is happening in Thailand right now, is something I dont expect to see in the Philippines.

        2. @ Gerry only 50 years? you’re optimistic.
          Spineless gutless cowards the lot of them, rather have a life of misery from birth to death then do something about it.
          All talk zero action, nothing will ever change.

  7. Now that the philippines is expected to stand up on its own after receiving help globally, I still do not get the move.

    Why the need for a REHAB CZAR? I mean that’s what the NDRRMC is for right? And that’s who the head is supposedly is right?

    Does there not a exist a rule that states “government should not have redundancy in them”?

    If the NDRRMC is really being run by an incompetent fool so much so that you need to bring another fool to help him, why not just kick out the current fool and replace him with someone more competent for the post?

    This is one of the reasons why I hate government. In private companies (not a family owned corporation), you expect efficiency and that your people deliver as per their job description. But if they can’t do the very task they are going to be hired to do, then he surely is not going to take up the seat (most often that not).

    I just don’t understand why their mind works like that? Why does there need to be another poster boy who can’t do squat?

  8. LoL…WHY your always blaming PNOY?. If Estrada won, would it be better than Pnoy? I think not. If you are in his shoe, could you believe that your better than him?…LOL

  9. What… Panfilo Lacson alone acting as a rehabilitation czar? You must be kidding! A team of experts is required for the multi-sectoral tasking that is required to get the huge job done. A well crafted plan must be constructed, reviewed and finalized. Task groups must be organized to clear, bury and even build infrastructure destroyed by the storm. Government agencies must be tapped to cooperate with the head of the task group. This is not going to be an easy task. Let us hope that politics does not interfere in this herculean task. Relief goods, health assistance and other services should continue until the situation normalizes.

  10. There was the last Czar of Russia, Car Alexander II. The Bolsheviks overthrew him; and installed a communist government in Russia.
    Czar Lacson, is as incompetent as Mr. Aquino and Mr. Roxas. He is also a murder suspect in the Dacer-Corbito, double murder case. What did he do as a Senator? Did he contributed something significant? As long as Mr. Aquino will politicalize the rehabilitation program. No amount of foreign aid will rebuild Leyte and Samar. Czar Lacson has no experience; no educational qualification to do such work.

  11. Never did see any pictures of the ships in port and aircraft in work, just GMA reporter news stories about reporters looking for their families and their heroic stand against the storm and devastation on the ground.

    1. Maybe because they were never allowed there in the first place or maybe the media wants something else to show to other people.

      1. Media? or Military media, the men talk like booming (loud irritating noise voice) midget robots and they all salute? What sort of media is that other than seriously annoying.

        1. More like mind-controlled military media if that’s the case. They are just there to do what they were paid to do..perhaps that’s why the monotonous robotic voice but then again, people still watch it.

          Kind of reminds me of the Sanchez-Cooper incident way back..oh well..

          I hate saying we don’t really have much of a choice, but for those people lucky enough to have alternative means of information like the internet and cable’s a better digest rather than just watching the same old same old…

    1. Iyan nga ang sinabi ko kay kathniel e, but he’s too much of a douche to listen to the reality.

      Let him kiss PNoy’s ass for all we care.

      What kind of country is this where government agencies actually hoard and sell relief goods to the victims? ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES.

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