Manila, Philippines – Amid protests from local officials and sharp criticism from international humanitarian agencies, Philippine President NoyNoy Aquino declared coastal areas in Haiyan (Yolanda) typhoon-ravaged towns and cities as ‘zombie zones.’
The presidential directive prohibits construction or reconstruction of houses along the coastlines of Leyte, Samar, Aklan, Cebu, Iloilo, Capiz and other areas affected by the most powerful typhoon ever to hit landfall. Under this new policy, no-build zones (NBZs) will be set up 4o meters from the high-water mark to the coastline. It is estimated that over 100,000 families will be dislocated as a result of the new policy.
The only exception to the rule would be high-rise hotels, condominiums and resorts.
Initially, the new policy was met with much anger by the typhoon victims who refused to leave the coastal areas which have been their home for many generations. But Aquino directed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism and the Malacañang Press Office to re-brand the new policy. That’s when they came up with ‘zombie zones’ to replace ‘no-build zones.’
The Aquino administration capitalized on the Filipinos’ fear of ghosts and propensity to believe in superstition to pacify the angry masses. Apparently, it worked.
The government is now looking for relocation areas for the dislocated families at least 15 miles away from the coastlines, where they would be off limits to zombies.