By Ka Leody de Guzman, Prof. Walden Bello, Luke Espiritu, 18 December 2021
MANILA — Laban ng Masa standard bearers Ka Leody de Guzman and Walden Bello, along with senatorial aspirant Luke Espiritu, released the following joint statement, Saturday, December 18:
More than donations, we need an emergency government relief package for those devastated by Typhoon Odette
Tens of thousands of people have reportedly been left homeless by Typhoon Odette and so many are desperate for immediate assistance. Donations are welcome and should be sought. Laban ng Masa is joining in the drive to provide aid, but this can only go so far. The government must also do its job.
The devastation of Odette is systemic, too. To provide more lasting and sustainable relief, we demand that the administration implement the following:
1. Distribute an unconditional emergency grant of ₱10,000 for every household in all severely-affected areas.
2. Provide a weekly basket of goods that include not just rice and other basic goods but also diapers, sanitary napkins, and other gender-specific needs for households with women and LGTBQs for up to two months, or until the situation returns to normal.
3. Provide emergency zero-interest loans for all those affected by the typhoon, through government financial institutions such as GSIS, SSS, Pag-ibig, Landbank and DBP.
4. Fund and carry out a mass employment program, recruiting thousands of unemployed individuals, aimed at repairing roads, bridges, school buildings, and other public infrastructure.
5. Order banks and other companies (Palawan Express, Western Union, Gcash, etc.) to waive service and other charges for fund transfers to affected areas.
6. Order all employers to give special paid leave to employees who need to repair their houses and attend to their household needs; provide hazard pay for all essential workers who need to work; sanction employers who penalize non-essential workers for not reporting to work.
7. Order all schools to observe “academic ease” by suspending classes, putting off all deadlines for requirements, and taking other steps to lessen the burden on students affected by the disaster.
8. Invite delegations from the United Nations and the international community to survey the destruction of communities and serve as the basis for a case to immediately respond to big climate polluting countries and corporations to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and radically increase their contributions to climate finance
A more comprehensive review of our existing laws and regulations concerning disaster response needs to be undertaken soon. Should these measures be deemed insufficient, which we believe they are, it is imperative to put in place people-centered processes for risk reduction and management. We also need to address the root causes of climate change by phasing out fossil fuels immediately and embarking on a just transition to a more sustainable society.
In the meantime, we call upon everyone to unite and help in making sure that the full resources of our government are deployed and the full capabilities of assistance by civil society and mass movements are realized to ensure that all those affected by Typhoon Odette get the immediate help they need.