“Subsistence fisherfolk need new boats, at least 10-12 horse power motor engines and new nets because all their fishing gears were swept away during super typhoon Yolanda.”
By GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
NEW WASHINGTON, Aklan- Could fisherfolk revive their livelihood after being devastated by a super typhoon with a tube of adhesive, some pieces of plywood and few kilos of nails? It seems the government thinks so.
The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) learned that small fisherfolk affected by super typhoon Yolanda in New Washington, Aklan province merely received “epoxy,” (a brand of adhesive) some pieces of plywood and few kilos of nails from the government’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), which, the group said, is grossly ridiculous and highly revolting.
In a consultation held in Tambak village last March 26, one of the Yolanda stricken areas in this coastal town of Aklan, Pamalakaya found out that the fishing village composed of 3,041 population and 769 households, mostly full time fishermen, has yet to receive substantial rehabilitation assistance from national and local government agencies.
The consultation with Yolanda fisherfolk victims was facilitated by Pamalakaya-Aklan, Task Force Tabang Aklan and the Iloilo City based Fisheries Marine Environment Research Institute (FMERI). It was attended by nearly 100 village leaders and members of the local fisherfolk group affiliated with Pamalakaya.
Pamalakaya and other organizations said the BFAR’s Rehabilitation Initiative that involves the building of 10,000 fishing boats for 20,000 families who had been affected by last November’s super-typhoon was never felt in Aklan and other areas stricken by super typhoon Yolanda.
They said BFAR’s rehabilitation program for fishing communities affected by super typhoon Yolanda was more of a “praise release” rather than a concrete one. ?
“Subsistence fisherfolk need new boats, at least 10-12 horse power motor engines and new nets because all their fishing gears were swept away during super typhoon Yolanda. Yet, what they got from the national government were tubes of mighty bond, some plywood and a few kilos of nails. This token approach to rehabilitation will not rebuild livelihood and restore lives,” the Pamalakaya research team said.
“The Aquino administration is not doing anything that is substantial. It is resorting to tokenistic rehabilitation, which is tantamount to criminal neglect and state abandonment of responsibility to the people,” the group noted.
Pamalakaya said in barangay Tambak, a total of 234 houses were partially damaged and 384 houses were severely damaged. Quoting a report compiled by Task Force Tabang Aklan and FMERI, the Pamalakaya staff researcher also said 50 percent of the small fish cages being maintained by small fishing families along the 10-hectare coastline beach were destroyed which cost P 10,000 ($222) per fish cage.
Pamalakaya said in Barangay Cawayan composed of 3,784 fisherfolk and farming residents, a total of 284 houses were destroyed, and about 35 pumpboats were washed away. In Barangay Poblacion, 80 percent of fishing and aqua farms were destroyed and about 561 houses were either totally or partially damaged.
In Barangay Ochando, around 45 motorized boats were swept away by strong winds to high seas at the height of super typhoon Yolanda, while 204 houses with 3,038 total population were destroyed.
In Barangay Pinamuk-an, 30 small motorized fishing boats were swept away, 120 fish cages and 298 nets were destroyed; while in Barangay Polo, 52 motorized bancas were swept to the sea, including 169 nets and 42 fish cages. In Barangay Fatima, 36 motorized boats and five commercial sized fishing boats were either destroyed or swept away; also lost were 60 fishing nets.
Pamalakaya said in Barangay Dumaguit, 51 small fishing boats were lost and around 132 fish cages were swept away.
“So what’s the use of epoxy, plywood and some kilos of nails? The government is treating the situation as if Yolanda never came to Aklan. This is stupidity to the highest order,” the group said.
FMERI, Pamalakaya-Aklan and Task Force Tabang Aklan also said typhoon Yolanda affected at least six fishing and farming barangays in Kalibo, nine barangays in Numancia, eight barangays in Tangalan, seven barangays in Altavas and eight barangays in Batan.
Last year, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Aklan issued its final Damage Assessment Report, which pegged the damage brought by Yolanda to the province at P 2.8 billion ($62 million).
Rowena Narciso, Task Force Tabang Aklan coordinator, said the government did not immediately release the funds to help the survivors despite the despite the widespread clamor and there are no any indications that it will make good with its promise to give P30,000 ($666) to families with totally damaged houses and P10,000 ($222) to families with partially damaged houses.
Slow response, inaction
“Since super typhoon Yolanda struck the province, all that the government extended was just 2.5 kilos of rice and some cans of sardines. For families whose houses and livelihood were destroyed, which is the case for most of the affected families in Aklan, this paltry assistance could not even adequately support an average family for one whole day. This is disheartening especially in the face of the fact that extension of assistance to typhoon-affected communities and families is the primary responsibility of the government,” Narciso said.
On March 7, Task Force Tabang Aklan and Pamalakaya-Aklan Moreover held a picket-dialogue with the Provincial Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Aklan Provincial Social Welfare. During the dialogue, the provincial development and welfare officer confirmed that the national government has not released any funds to help the Aklanon survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.