Workers, urban poor, and youths held a picket this morning in Mendiola to condemn Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s criminal culpability for the devastation left behind by typhoon “Sendong,” saying the president weakened the country’s disaster preparedness while conniving with big mining and logging corporations.
The protesters, led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and youth group Anakbayan said the president removed the budget for disaster preparedness for 2011, leaving government agencies with no other option than to simply issue warnings to the public.
They also said the president connived with big foreign mining and logging companies, allowing the latter to destroy the environment in the affected areas, paving the way for the flashfloods that killed more than 1,000 people.
The protesters, who all wore black, carried crosses with the words “Ilan pa ang kailangang mamatay (How many more should die)?” written across. They also carried a streamer that read “Pabaya sa kalamidad! Kasabwat ng mining at logging companies! Noynoy, panagutin!”
“We are deeply angered by the Aquino government’s criminal culpability for the deaths of more than 1,000 people and the washing away of entire communities because of typhoon ‘Sendong’. It weakened the country’s disaster preparedness while allowing mining and logging companies to plunder our natural resources and leave us vulnerable to flooding,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
“It is plain to see that the government’s warnings did not suffice to save the people and communities of the Visayas and Mindanao. At the very least, the government should have evacuated the people from their homes – that is, if it took to heart warnings from experts about the vulnerabilities of the areas affected,” he added.
“Because we have lost all hope on the president on this issue, we are calling on the Supreme Court to junk the Mining Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7942) and the Forestry Reform Code (Presidential Decree 705). These laws are responsible for the destruction of our environment, leaving us more vulnerable to disasters,” he said.
The protesters also criticized the president’s callousness in dealing with the disaster.
“The fact that the president can still party amidst all the deaths and devastation in the Visayas and Mindanao is proof of his persistent insensitivity towards the people and the poor in particular,” said Anton Dulce, Anakbayan vice-chairperson.
“It is also callous to blame the poor for living in flood-prone areas. It is the government who should be blamed for failing to provide the poor with decent housing and decent jobs,” he added.
“No amount of poor-blaming will hide the president’s criminal culpability for this disaster. The president should not be so arrogant as to think that he can get away with his anti-people policies that are resulting in death and destruction,” he said. Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general