Sunday, 17 November 2013

Statement from the Labor Party of the Philippines about the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Colleagues on this email list might be interested
in reading the statement below from the Labor Party
of the Philippines about the devastation caused by
Typhoon Haiyan. They have set up a fund appealing
for solidarity for victims.

Martin Empson
Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change
Trade Union group 

CAPITALISM IS destroying the planet. Now we suffer. The
devastating horror unleashed by the monster-typhoon Yolanda
 (Haiyan) upon the eastern and central Philippines regions is
unspeakable. As of this writing, estimates of the number of
casualties and actual damages are tentative because many areas
 remain isolated, and communications, power, road and port
systems are down.

An initial estimate by the provincial government of Leyte and the
 regional police put the death toll at more than 10,000. Some 70
 to 80 percent of houses and structures along the typhoon's path
 were destroyed. In Tacloban City alone, officials told the media
that the death toll "could go up" to 10,000, as people died en masse
 from surging tidal waves.

We have yet to account for some of our party members, including
the leader of the city's federation of tricycle drivers and operators.
 Another member, a newly elected village official in Southern Leyte,
is still not in contact. We just hope that they have survived the wrath
of Haiyan. There is also little information about Eastern Samar towns
where Haiyan made first landfall from the Pacific.

The massive loss of life and destruction are indeed beyond words
to describe. The death toll will surely climb when actual rescue and
 retrieval operations reach the isolated areas. National and inter-
national aid is coming in, but there will definitely be a catastrophic
 scarcity of most essentials, such as food, water, power, housing
 and medicines. The national and local governments were caught
unprepared to deal with the colossal impact of Haiyan. And we still
 have four or five more typhoons coming this year, according to
official weather forecasts.

The poor--the army of low-income, unemployed and underemployed
people--suffer the most in every disaster. It is because they lack the
means to protect themselves during calamities, and the ability to survive
 and recover thereafter.
Most of the poor, both in rural and urban areas, live in hazard zones
(slums, riverbanks, creeks, coastlines, mountain slopes) that are prone to
both natural and man-made disasters. Their houses are made of light
materials, just enough to cover them from sunshine and rain, but not from
surging floods, landslides or tidal waves.

Moreover, the country's biggest employer, the agriculture sector, is first
to suffer from the impact of both La Niña (floods) and El Niño (long drought)
which are now common phenomena due to climate change, and further
endanger the country's food security and employment opportunities.

Regrettably, the poor don't even know why nature is so unkind to people,
 most especially to them. They have not been informed that today's wrath
 is more man-made than a natural phenomenon. They have yet to under-
stand that it was capitalism that exploited and destroyed this planet beyond
 its limits, creating in effect a destructive fusion of economic, social and
climate crisis.

The Philippines has the highest stake and the strongest case to bring
before the ongoing United Nation's Climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.
Previous climate talks produced nothing, as the process is dominated by
 developed countries that are known for committing something, yet doing

The timing is indeed "tragically ironic," one writer has pointed out. The
19th Conference of Parties (COP19) in Poland opened right after the
Philippines was hit by the Earth's strongest typhoon in recent history,
leaving thousands of dead out of more than 4 million people who suffered
 from what scientists consider a monster storm.

We welcome all international aid and solidarity work coming from
Northern countries. This is the least they could do--put their one cent to
climate emergencies such as in the Philippines. But we demand more.
We want climate justice. Capitalist countries must be held accountable for
 the climate crisis. They must be forced to pay the climate debt they owe to
poor nations.

Capitalist countries, we emphasize, are responsible for the climate crisis.
They emit more carbon into the atmosphere--many times over what the
poor countries do. The greenhouse gases emitted from capitalist industries
drive global temperatures to new levels. This causes climactic reactions like
warmer oceans and rising sea levels, and eventually leads to the formation
of monster typhoons as in the case of Haiyan.

For over a century, capitalists have profited from nature by monetizing it
rather than protecting its rich natural resources. And the poor people and
poor nations suffer the most from the climate crisis created by rich nations.
The Philippines is among the topmost vulnerable countries. In fact, we have
suffered enough from devastating typhoons such as Frank (Fengshen, 2008),
Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009), Sendong (Washi, 2011), Pablo (Bopha, 2012), and
 now Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013). The worst may be yet to come.

What makes the crisis more devastating is that Haiyan struck the Philippines
when Filipinos are still reeling from a recent earthquake that killed hundreds
of people. The monster storm also came when Filipinos are fighting
 massive corruption scandals involving a huge amount of public service

Corruption in the Philippines reduces the ability of both the national and
local governments to respond to climate emergencies of this magnitude
because billions of public funds are lost to official scams.

More than that, the ruling class's embrace of free-market ideology since the
1980s has made poor people more vulnerable. The rich therefore are equally responsible and must be held accountable for the peoples' miserable

Neoliberalism made government rely completely on the private sector to
create employment. Public services such as water and power were privatized.
Prices of goods and services were deregulated. This resulted in massive unemployment and underemployment (close to 30 percent). Social
infrastructure and services are in a poor state. The poverty rate remains
 at 28 percent while hunger affects 19 percent of the population.

Just imagine this number of poor people living in one of the country's
poorest regions facing the wrath of super-typhoons. The post-Haiyan
images will speak more of their miserable situation. They really are in
dire need of immediate aid and rehabilitation. Many have already resorted
to confiscations of available supplies in several stores and malls. We consider
those as justified actions and much better if collectively organized to isolate
criminal elements and individual push for survival. Where the government
fails, the people should collectively rise up.

We therefore warn the government to avoid using force against our
helpless people. The people need food, water and homes to stay in, not a
police force to quell their spirit to survive. In the first place, a government
that fails to eradicate high-level corruption has no justifiable reason to use
 force in suppressing the peoples' desperate struggle for life.

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