Supertyphoon Yolanda survivors from Eastern Visayas trooped to Mendiola last November 28 to challenge President Rodrigo Duterte to make good on his promise of change.
The Lakbayan ng Visayas (Caravan of the Visayas) arrived in Metro Manila in several buses demanding justice for the previous administration’s failure to provide them relief since 2013.
“Eastern Visayas should have been rehabilitated properly right after what was called the ‘strongest typhoon in history.’ But after three years, we continue to suffer the poverty and hunger due to the governments’ criminal neglect,” People’s Surge chairperson Dr. Efleda Bauista said.
“We are not only here to call for justice for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda, but also to demand that president Duterte fulfill his promise to help us,” Bautista said.
“They say that poverty has gone down in Eastern Visayas, when the truth is the exact opposite,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Eastern Visayas secretary-general Rey Peralta for his part said.
“Even today, the farmers from the region remain unable to put food on the table and send their children to school because there are still no decent jobs to be found in Eastern Visayas,” Peralta added.
The caravan also called for an end to militarization in the region, citing the military’s gross disrespect of the ongoing respective ceasefire declarations by the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“Eastern Visayans, already victimized by the typhoon and corruption, consistently get harrassed by the military,” Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said.
“The military in the region even go as far as saying that the ceasefire is only for the NPA, and not them. They refuse to leave the communities and continue to rob and harrass them,” Crisostomo added.
In Mendiola, the caravan participants condemned the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“The unrepentant Marcoses do not deserve any ounce of rehabilitation. Instead, it is the people of Eastern Visayas who rightly deserve it,” Bautista said.
They further encouraged people to support the upcoming Lakbayan and the people of the Visayas in their struggle.
“We endured the hardships of leaving our families and journeying to Metro Manila to make our demands heard. We hope the people would listen,” Peralta said.
“Before we leave the capital, we expect the Duterte government to provide us with a concrete answer to our problems,” Peralta added.
The caravan participants are staying at the Mabini Campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa where are staying for the duration of the Lakbayan. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)