A country under an inutile gov’t: The #Philippines 12 months since Typhoon #Haiyan struck

The marking of the first year’s anniversary of the visit of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) to the Philippines in November 2013 is a bittersweet one. While the disaster devasted millions of Filipino lives, its most appalling legacy is the vast open wound it left in the Filipino’s collective psyche — the realisation that theirs is an utterly helpless nation, a helplessness singularly underpinned by a government made an absolute inutile by the infantile feudal politics that drives it.

Haiyan's legacy: False hope in the national colours

Haiyan’s legacy: False hope in the national colours

In the critical few days both preceding and succeeding the lashing of central Philippines by Haiyan, the Philippine government had squandered mountains of opportunity to minimise loss of life. Lack of planning and preparation as the typhoon approached and lack of rapid and coordinated response after it exited all but doomed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Small wonder. The province of Leyte is a bastion of the Romualdez dynasty, the feudal clan to which former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos was born. As such, many Filipinos are not surprised that sufficient attention to the entire province’s wellbeing was never a high priority in the Philippine government which is currently ruled by the Romualdezes’ bitter enemies, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan led by current president Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III.

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Indeed, today’s Inquirer.net Op-Ed spells out the political roots of the Haiyan disaster with elegent succinctness; that the condition of the province a full year after disaster struck “renewed questions about whether Mr. Aquino sees himself as president of an entire country, not only of those who voted for him.” Aquino’s “mistake”, the Inquirer editor writes, “reminded citizens across the country of the politically toxic atmosphere that hung over Tacloban immediately after it was devastated by the strongest storm to ever make landfall”. This “mistake” was a big one, and a recent one, once again highlighting the lack of learning Filipinos (as reflected by their democratically-elected politicians) are world-renowned for. Aquino had decided to skip showing up at Ground Zero in Tacloban City to mark the occassion. The Inquirer editor continues, noting the critical nature of what should have been a given in an occassion marking an important blight in recent Philippine history…

That is the role of the head of state: to serve as the focus of national attention, indeed to serve the public interest by directing national attention to issues and events of importance. To argue that he had other commitments last Saturday, or that his schedule last Friday was already full (it was, in fact, actually full), is to confuse or to conflate his duties as head of government with those of head of state. As head of government, he had to prepare for his participation in crucial international summits; as head of state, he should have rearranged his schedule to accommodate a quick trip to Tacloban.

Too bad, indeed. President BS Aquino had much to explain and much to own up to. A CBS News report, in not so many words, summarised evidence of both (1) the glacial progress in the rehabilitation of the disaster area in the last 12 months, and (2) the lack of any lessons learned as communities continue to remain in areas most vulnerable to deadly storm surges.

Just on the edge of the city, along the shoreline, entire fishing communities still live in makeshift tents. Residents tell me that when the sun is up, it’s hot as an oven. When it rains, water drips in. When it pours the tents shake violently, and they are inevitably reminded of Haiyan.

The same report also highlights the fundamental rot at the core of the way the Philippine government generally works…

According to [former Senator Panfilo] Lacson, $19,000 was allocated for each bunkhouse unit. But upon investigation, the value of each unit was found to be only $11,300. The rest of the money would likely have been pocketed by unscrupulous officials or contractors had the anomaly not been uncovered.

Suffice to say, nothing gets done in the Philippines without direct foreign supervision considering that (a) much of the resources that had poured into the relief effort over the last 12 months was either wasted or stolen and (b) the quality of the actual operations and the management around these have been found to be substandard and inept respectively.

It was quite fitting that lifestyle magazine Esquire Philippines may had actually found irony in the featuring of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on its cover for its November issue. Roxas was appointed by President BS Aquino as his disaster response point man in the days that immediately followed Haiyan’s exit from the Philippines. But Roxas’s absolute failure to get on top of the situation on the ground there had become a standout symbol of everything that is wrong with the way the Philippines, as a society, responds to just about every challenge it faces. At one point Roxas even reminded Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez during a crisis meeting at the height of the disaster of the political realities of the situation, “You are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino!

While such behaviour amongst top Filipino leaders may baffle outsiders, this is really stock-standard governance style in the Philippines, where the interests of one’s self and immediate family comes first even when one is serving a public service role — another one of those head-scratchers that characterises Asia’s supposedly “predominantly Catholic” nation, a distinction many Filipinos take ironic pride in. Interestingly enough, Filipinos look forward to the visit of top Catholic honcho, Pope Francis early in 2015 — perhaps because they see in Francis a leader rather than a mere politician. But Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in a BBC report sees through all the point-missing “preparation” work Filipinos are mounting in anticipation of this visit. “Everything needs to be spick and span for the pontiff,” Wingfield-Hayes writes wryly.

Unfortunately Pope Francis’s visit will be nothing more than what it is — a visit. Beyond that, Filipinos will have to be resigned to living with the longer-term results of their chronically bad choices, Filipino politicians who are nothing more than leaders in shallow form and in witty campaign slogan.

[Photo courtesy The Nation.]

29 Replies to “A country under an inutile gov’t: The #Philippines 12 months since Typhoon #Haiyan struck”

  1. “According to [former Senator Panfilo] Lacson, $19,000 was allocated for each bunkhouse unit. But upon investigation, the value of each unit was found to be only $11,300.”—- you kidding me?! those things cannot be worth anywhere near even $11,300. 11,300 pesos is more like it.

    1. After the Sendong storm we collected money for rebuilding of houses. A small, 25m2 concrete house with tin roof, one bedroom, c/r and sala and kitchenette, was 80k pesos to build. Less than $2,000. So 19,000 should give them about 10 of these.

  2. I’m, certain I could build a proper house in this country for $11,000 and it would be properly wired, plumbed and ready for occupancy. The houses I could build for that amount of cash would be permanent dwellings that would outlast the lives of even the youngest children.

    1. Yep, that’s definitely one of their spiels they used last year.

      It didn’t work out for them since it wasn’t good enough to hide their bosses incompetence in handling the yolanda disaster.

    2. Ang lakas ng loob mo pre, meron ka na ba nagawa para umunlad Pinas ? Or pasimplehan ko na lang tanong, meron ka na ba nagawa para maalis masamang ugali mo na dahilan ng di pagunlad ng bayan ?

    1. A good friend of mine builds lowcost dwellings (2-brms/1-bath 500 sq.ft.) for a living. Cost per unit Php 485,000. 1st unit he built 14 years ago is still in good shape.

  3. Tribalism at it’s finest. That’s how much this president cares about that region. Meanwhile an impending power crisis is looking and all he prioritizes binay. dummy is laying the seeds of his own destruction.

  4. @ OH NO, I’m callin BULLSHIT ! why is it the government of one Man’s family that is responsible for the dreadful predicament of Taclabano’s ,huh?

    If the Romualdez clan is soooo frickin powerful then why did they not empty some of their wealth upon their supposed ‘fellow Filipino’s’, huh? To help their fellow ‘forgotten by the evil Cojuangco-Aquino clan that has refused to help out the poor people of Leyte Island? WHY HAVE THEY NOT DONE SOMETHING? The Marcos clan has just as much money, probably more, than the Aquino’s do .

    This is just a BULLSHIT story, blaming the government. If the collective Filipino are sooo upset why are they not doing something about it? Rather than scream what a bunch of scumbags (which they very well might be) the government is for ‘not caring’ or ‘carrying a grudge’ so that the victims of the natural disaster could rebuild their lives and get on with helping themselves or each other or doing whatever it is that needs to be done to rebuid the place INSTEAD OF BLAMING SOMEONE or SOMETHING? How about doing something BESIDES BITCHING AND SCREAMING WHAT AN UNJUST WORLD THE PHILIPPINES IS(and it just may be!)and get some people together to rebuild the place if the government doesn’t want to?

    EXACTLY WHO SAID THAT FILIPINO’s HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO FIX LEYTE ISLAND? You know, it seems the world’s most Catholic nation has forgotten that ‘God helps those who hep themselves’. STOP BLAMING AND CRYING AND DO SOMETHING !

    1. Most people in Leyte are doing something, but a person could only do as much as an individual. If you will ask a common person to do a government’s job, then what is the point of having a government in the first place?

      1. @ Tokwa, EXACTLY ! What is the point of having the government, especially when they have proven that they do not care about the victims/survivors. BUT ALSO, why wait for them to do something ?

        FILIPINO’s need to wake the fuck up.

  5. HOW ABOUT FACING FACTS? The Aquino’s and THE ROMUALDEZ/MARCOS clans do not give one good fuck about the poor people that died on Leyte Island and care even less for the survivors! That the rich people, from both families and all the other dynastic families nationwide do not give one good shit about rebuilding the lives of the survivors. I mean, isn’t this obvious by now? The people who run the country could have collectively rebuilt Leyte Island already, if they wanted to. BUT THEY DO NOT WANT TO, SO??? What do the rest of the Filipino’s do? Sit and cry like frickin babies? OR Get off their collective asses and do something to help their fellow Filipino’s?
    It should be blatantly obvious by now that the people who run the country do not give one good fuck about the poor people and that they probably wish the victim’s would have collectively drown in that storm, yes? SO HOW ABOUT DOIN SOMETHING ELSE, and stop waiting for the god damm government to do something, Because if that is what you are all waiting for: I GOT SOME NEWS FOR YOU: THEY AIN’T COMING TO REBUILD A FUCKIN THING !!! so you all best do it yourselves !and while your at it, get pissed off enough to take out the scumbags that have shoown such a total lack of concern for their fellow Filipino’s. Have they not proven they are not worthy of governing?

    1. I agree what a mess. Do the math people: 40 oligarchs don’t give a duck families versus 80 million. It can be done. Yolanda highlights the need for a functional government. We don’t have one right now. Given the limited resources in the area there is very little individuals can do. Really I’d expect a peasant revolt by now.

      1. @ RRR , IDK what anyone in the country could possibly be waiting for ? It is obvious that the government has stolen the relief money/goods and is not interested in helping the people re-build their lives as is their FUCKIN JOB !

        The people should be beyond OUTRAGED !and doing something besides crying about what a useless gov’t. they have, u kno? I MEAN, NO SHIT the gov’t. has told everyone to go fuck themselves. this is not new news !!!

  6. These people won’t insist on staying on areas they should keep out if they trust their government to relocate them in a far better settlement. You can buy/pay in installment fine subdivision houses worth $11-12K via PAG-IBIG built in a year or less. These bunkhouses took almost a year to finish even when the government has the budget for building houses, right? They could easily sell/buy land for real estate businesses but not for victims of typhoons? And they could have at least shown their plans for the so-called permanent houses together with the temporary ones, like tower houses that could withstand typhoons or storms. Why, architecture/engineering students would have goose bumps in excitement planning for cheap, modern houses for Haiyan survivors, why not the professionals?

  7. …What I remember was so unnerving in the aftermath of Haiyan/ Yolanda, watching Christianne Amanpour of CNN interviewing BS Aquino. Towards the end, I thought she was telling him right in his face that he was a freaking fool, of course diplomatically in so many words. Wasn’t that so embarrasing if you are a Pinoy? I also remember Low Voltage Gazmin got very angry at media, a typical reaction of one who could not rise above criticisms, which showed he had no basic idea on what to do. And, we knew right there and then that our political elite would bungle big time the opportunity being given them to shine as leaders.

    To this date, nobody can fathom why BS fired that police director for simply giving an estimate on the number of death higher than the estimate of the president. Would it not have been better, if BS accepted the higher figure because that would have meant more aid, I just thought. The sonmagan could not even be shrewd for his people. But we might as well be thankful that did happen; my gosh, these people are feckless; oh gosh, they have allowed so much aid to go to waste, …aargggh, p*t$^ng %na….and I know each of us who were helping then have our own personal horror stories in this regard. Of course, BS will never apologize to that cop, who is being proven more and more correct, despite government efforts to keep people in the dark on this matter; he never apologized to Hong Kong despite his glaring incompetence that incident, remember. Is BS indeed living in a world separate from our normal world? One just has to wonder if delusion is curable as narcissism is an incurable blindness.

    The last week showed that Dinky Soliman gave several interviews to local and international media, and almost as if of one mind, they asked, again in so many words, why is Dinky the Dirty seeing the same things they are seeing a 180-degree differently. But, isn’t the answer right in front of them? It is being suspected more and more that Dinky is the reigning Tongpats Queen, and if commonsense is only allowed to rule, couldn’t they see that bribe blinds, and it blinds absolutely? Surely, she just gave herself away in those interviews; it is that simple …Enough has been said about Mister Korina Sanchez in the last week. Well, what can we say about Mar Roxas. He is just another rich brat like BS, so what could we expect? Nil performance, of course. But if Haiyan did its job on Leyte and Samar, it sure did more on Mar, the Market Man. And one just has to wonder how a living dead could still manage to smile.

    Twitter, Facebook, blogs and traditional media are all buzzing these days about Haiyan/ Yolanda and about the lessons that have been, and could be, learned on its anniversary. I don’t know if adding another voice to it is worth it. Maybe, it is worth it for there is strenght in numbers, and more of us should talk about it, even if all we could say is one peso worth. As the cliche goes:..”for evil to triumph, it only needs the silence of good men.” More to it, what we seem to have forgotten is that prayer: “Lord,…. help us to change the things we can change and to accept the things we cannot change and to know the difference between the two… ” Come 2016, we all have a chance to make a major change. But, if we elect the same faces, why talk about Haiyan. We might as well pray for something stronger than Haiyan to come.

  8. Exposing this level of ineptitude and corruption to the world was the only positive thing to come out of the typhoon, but it seems that a year later nothing has been remedied and those deaths really were for nothing. Way to completely waste that opportunity, Philippines. Maybe next time.

  9. For half a billion pesos, they can erect decent houses for 1000 families. The government has 1.2B ready to spend donations at hand, 1.2B worth of items to be distributed (even without it, the government always come up with more or less P6B calamity fund annually. In fact according to the FAITH website, the admin roll out P8B more just for Yolanda housing). NGO’s have 14.7B more to spend for assistance of the families (livelihood?) and rehabilitation of the affected towns, do I read this right (http://www.gov.ph/faith/)? Some private companies even have housing projects for the survivors. So the Philippines isn’t lacking of money to spend for the needs. I think the question is do the respective, trusted leaders know where and how to spend it and how to help the survivors start anew and competitively? How’s the financial management of our government, can the auditors tell?

  10. Aquino and Roxas, both imbeciles are playing Feudal Politics; amidst the suffering of the Filipino people. The Typhoon Yolanda victims need help very badly. And, these two idiots never had the consciences to help people in need.

    Both Aquino and Roxas came from Feudal Oligarchs families. Both are incompetent;
    Aquino is bothered by his conscience (if he has any), to visit the results of his dereliction of duties. Roxas is having a photo opportunity on a magazine,to milk the tragedy for his political purposes; at the expense of these typhoon victims.

    What a country, we have…full of idiotic officials…

  11. PNOY is a big joke, Mar Roxas is an even worse one.

    I don’t think we can rebuild as efficiently as the Japanese have done after Fukushima, but at least get something done for the the people in the affected areas. This government is all talk, no walk…took a year to “approve” funding when it could’ve been done faster.

  12. “The smile is a mask we wear to hide the pain we have inside.”

    That was the last part of the BBC article “Typhoon Haiyan: Still mourning and trying to survive in Tacloban” by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes as he chronicled about Tacloban, a year after the Category 5 storm.

    This is the truest reflection of what government failure is, has been, and always will be. The so-called resilience is a misnomer in the Failippines, and indeed it will continue to be, until everyone is long dead and gone.

    And when that time comes, it will be all but too late.

  13. 1st year anniversary of onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) – a Gruesome reminder of Nature Wrath. Extreme weather events now pose a clear threat every year. Due to our geography, Philippines is adjacent to the largest body of water – the Pacific Ocean when it heat-up (global warming) creates super typhoons that likely hit us first with full force/thrust.

    Climate change is too serious for any President/Nation (Government & People) to ignore its danger. Hazards brought about by Climate Change & our Geography is imminent and will worsen @ bigger scale/interval, thus Super Typhoon every year is now the NEW NORM.

    This year 2014, four Super typhoons visited Philippines Area of Responsibility with 1-directly inflicting damage in Metro Manila while 3-other suddenly change direction toward Taiwan or Japan?

    Last year, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) spared nobody (rich or poor). Everyone was in disarray – PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS erupted due to the following:
    1. FEAR,
    2. LOST OF HOPE,
    3. LACKS OF PREPARATION, INFORMATION, COMMUNICATION & POWER which the local & national government should restore or provide immediately.

    GOOD GOVERNANCE is vital/key component in coping with these problems.

    Below is one of my Proposal or Suggestions (4yrs old) to Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness, Climate Change Adaptation, Flooding, etc… which our President (Noynoy Aquino) & Government ignored or simple did not care understand? But after experiencing numerous disaster every year with increasing no. of death/casualties & damages (Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda), our Government (Dinky Soliman & Napoleon Nazareno) is now slowly implementing and copying my ideas/presentation.

    To avoid PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS – it is necessary to convey messages or instructions BEFORE, DURING & AFTER any disaster. It is also vital to receive/transmit informations & news in the community in times of crisis. And to warn occupants of impending danger.








  14. Just shows what a bunch of incompetent fucks both our national and local leaders are. Tacloban is a mess. Have scratched off millions in collectibles as many of my customers have died or are bankrupt. All i can do to help them is to forget about what they owe me and try to get some of them back on their feet through consignments. Not what the yellow fucktards said- business back to normal. BULLSHIT. Am just waiting for the power shortage coming in a few months. Will light a black candle in the darkness and chant for horrible deaths to all these political slime shits. 😀

  15. Well, next election is coming… hoping that the Filipino people had opened their minds already on who are they going to vote for those leadership post of this country (Philippines). wither we like it or not, all this shit is on us already. so it’s time for us Filipinos to unite again like what we did on the first People’s Power. Lets correct what is wrong of our government system now.

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