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Former Vice President and senatorial aspirant Jejomar C. Binay has called on the national government to immediately address the needs of survivors of typhoon Odette “to prevent a humanitarian crisis.”

“The pandemic should not be an excuse for neglecting the survivors of typhoon Odette. While it is true that the pandemic caught us off guard almost two years ago, typhoons occur every year. Government agencies should have learned their lessons from typhoon Yolanda. There should be no excuses,” Binay said.

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“Kahit may pandemya, huwag namang pabayaan ang mga biktima ng bagyong Odette,” he added.

The former vice president issued the statement as the United Nations (UN) issued a call over the weekend for more aid to areas severely affected by typhoon Odette. More than a month after the typhoon battered parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, the UN said survivors still do not have access to food, drinking water, and shelter.

Binay said the concerned government agencies should address reports of deaths attributed to poor and unsanitary living conditions, especially the lack of access to clean water.

“These deaths could have been prevented with timely intervention,” Binay said.

“Until now, the affected residents are still struggling to survive. Government needs to act immediately if we want to prevent a humanitarian crisis,” he added.

The former vice president said national government agencies should have been prepared for stronger typhoons, after climate change experts named the Philippines as one of the country’s vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

“Walang dahilan para hindi paghandaan ang mga bagyo. Nagsalita na dito ang experts at nabigyan na ng warning ang Pilipinas. Pwera na lang kung talagang napabayaan,” the former vice president said.

Aside from immediate provisions for food, water and shelter, the former vice president added that government should begin preparing a comprehensive recovery and rehabilitation program for the severely affected areas.

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The plan should take into account the need for climate resilient housing, decent and sustainable jobs and livelihood opportunities, support for affected businesses, and other basic needs, he said.

Government agencies should also ensure that all government aid for typhoon victims and for local governments are released and received on time.

For typhoon victims living in government housing projects, Binay proposed suspension of mortgage payments.

He added that collection of payments owed to Pag-Ibig Fund, GSIS, SSS should also be suspended, or these agencies could declare an amnesty for payments.

The UN said 2.7 million Filipinos were forced from their homes by typhoon Odette, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) placed the number of displaced workers at around 2.2 million.

A UN official had compared typhoon Odette’s impact on livelihood and infrastructure to Yolanda.


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