Tacloban, Philippines – The Filipino people are united in praising and thanking foreign governments and the international community for the overwhelming financial and in-kind support their country received, and continues to receive, in the aftermath of the most powerful typhoon of record that killed thousands, flattened homes and infrastructure, and turned once vibrant communities into ghost towns. In many instances, foreign rescue and relief personnel were first to arrive at the scenes of devastation, way ahead of teams dispatched by Manila’s government. In the first moments of the disaster, President Noynoy Aquino repeatedly criticized local governments for being unprepared for the super typhoon and for being unable to immediately respond to its deadly effects, especially in the hard-hit areas of Central Philippines.
Surviving individuals and families went without food, shelter and medical aid for days. Anger and frustration were evident among Filipinos trying to fend for themselves and struggling to flee their neighborhoods in search of relief, comfort and dignity. Cadavers remained uncollected, largely contributing to the unbearable stench of the national government’s relief and rescue operations. Meanwhile, Secretary of the Interior and Local Governments Mar Roxas kept repeating during media interviews that “everything was under control.” What little relief packages that were being distributed had stickers of the Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay plastered over them – a clever prelude to his expected campaign for the 2016 presidential elections.
The calamity hit the country at a time when massive dissatisfaction with the central government was rising at fever pitch, brought about by the pork barrel scandal that saw billions of taxpayer money going into the pockets of top politicians and their citizen cronies. Many calamity victims were quick to point out that the impact of the powerful typhoon could have been minimized had the pork barrel funds been spent as intended — to build public infrastructure and services that would have possibly put rescue and relief operations in times like these into place.
While the Filipino people continued to express their deep gratitude to the international aid they have received so far, they were one in making a last appeal which they described as their greatest, ultimate need. Today, in a unified message to the United Nations and through international media, the Filipinos appealed for a donation of a functioning government to replace the one that’s currently in place. “It would be the greatest gift of all, one that would put an end to decades of government corruption as well as suffering by the Filipino people,” they said.