Dear Sisters in IWA,
We are writing to ask for your support as we call for JUSTICE for TYPHOON YOLANDA (Haiyan) VICTIMS. This year’s commemoration of the International Women’s Day will take on Philippine President NoyNoy Aquino’s criminal negligence of the Filipino women especially those in Eastern Visayas, the most devastated region during the typhoon. As we thank all our sisters and friends who responded to our call for immediate help after the typhoon, we are again asking you to support this campaign to call on the Philippine government to:
- Provide PhP40,000 emergency cash relief to each family affected and sustain delivery of relief goods to people;
- Scrap the ‘No Build Zone’ policy;
- To immediately rebuild and rehabilitate facilities for basic social services such community hospitals and health centers, schools, etc.;
- To ensure transparency and accountability of all donations and budgets allotted to Yolanda victims; and
- To stop land grabbing and militarization of affected communities.
Almost four months after the typhoon, the Philippine government has yet to make any progress in delivering basic social needs to women and their families such as adequate housing, comprehensive health services, potable water, and electricity. Many women are still living in evacuation centers or makeshift tents in their communities which exposes them to greater health risks and gender based violence. Immediately after the aftermath of the typhoon a number of rape incidences were recorded; and because of lack of work and livelihood, many women are to prostitution and may become victims to trafficking.
Women farmers and agricultural workers, and fishers are among the most affected as almost 100% of the agricultural and fishing industries was totally damaged. The government’s plan of reconstruction and rehabilitation is centered mostly on tourism, large scale mining, infrastructure and real estate development which will mean massive land grabbing, demolition of communities, displacement, privatization, militarization and human rights violations. The corrupt ridden Aquino government is using the disaster to amass profit from international donors and by allowing big businesses to be part of the rebuilding plan instead of prioritizing the people.
Last February 17, representatives of the victims under the alliance People Surge trooped to Malacanang Palace to seek a dialogue with Aquino to deliver their demands but they were ignored and were not allowed to enter Malacanang. A day after, Aquino declared that the government will not give in to their demands and went on to insult the victims by saying, “If they have the time and money to come to Manila, then they why not spend it on their livelihood?” These clearly show the Philippine government’s lack of understanding on the plight of the victims of the typhoon and the lack of plan to help the people to recover and rebuild from the disaster.
Aside from profiteering, the government is also using the disaster as an excuse to further intensify militarization of Eastern Visayas deploying thousands of military troops all over the region. US Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Harry Harris, Jr. recently announced their plan to hold exercises in Tacloban City together with Japan, Australia, and New Zealand under the Pacific Partnership 2014. Disguising as humanitarian exercises, these war exercises and the presence of foreign military troops (as of the present there are military troops from Korea in the area) will more human rights violations and will expose women children to violence such as prostitution and trafficking.
In this regard, we call on you to please include the “JUSTICE for YOLANDA VICTIMS” campaign in your IWD activities and actions. We encourage you to join us in an internationally coordinated solidarity action for victims of Yolanda on March 8, International Women’s Day, by staging protests and/or symbolic actions (purple ribbon tying, picket, noise barrage, etc.) in front of Philippine embassies or consulates in your countries or cities. You can also write letters of concern addressed to Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. You can also take photos of yourselves holding placards/signs with the calls above and post it on social media and share on social media with hash tags #PeopleSurge and #NeverForget.
Because we also want the international community to know what is happening in the devastated areas, we encourage you to have dialogues or send letters to big donors such as the UNICEF, UNHCR, UNWFP, UN Women, governments of your countries, local and international NGOS, and private citizens who donated through the Philippine government to urge them to demand transparency and accountability from Aquino and immediate delivery of services to the victims.
Attached here is the manifesto of support for the survivors for your reference. You can also visit https://www.facebook.com/PeopleSurge for more information.
Thank you and we hope IWA can take an active role in this campaign.