Student formations organize relief drive Recent streak of typhoons, monsoon affects almost 100,000 families in ST JOHN PAUL OMAC WITH REPORTS FROM GUIEN EIDREFSON GARMA
Tropical storm Maring may have left the country already, but certainly not without serious damages. Heavy rains induced by Maring and southwest monsoon (habagat) flooded various provinces, destroyed several roads, and displaced thousands of individuals from their homes. Among the worst-hit areas were Southern Tagalog provinces such as Cavite, Laguna, and Rizalâ€” all of which were immediately put under state of calamity.
According to the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), as of 6 a.m. of August 26, 81,887 families from 323 barangays in Region IV-A were affected by Maring and habagat. Bulk of the affected families came from Cavite and Laguna, where the most volume of rainfall was recorded. //CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Hand-in-hand. A volunteer poses with children during a UPLB Serve the People Brigade relief distribution operation last August 22, 2013. Photo from STPB Documentation Team
Student formations... (from page 1)
Relief initiatives In light of the calamity, UPLB students led relief and rehabilitation initiatives to aid those who were greatly affected by the flood after the onslaught of Tropical Storm Maring and habagat last week. The University Student Council, in coordination with Gawad Kalinga - UP Los Ba単os and other College Student Councils, initiated efforts to help affected communities. The partnered efforts of the USC and GK were able to reach 570 families in Los Ba単os and 458 families in Bay. Several schools and organizations, primarily from UPLB, also gathered under the banner of the Serve the People Brigade (STPB) to raise relief and rehabilitation efforts for people afflicted by the flood. STPB, which traces its roots from as early as 1972, is a network of organizations and volunteers aimed to help people affected by disasters. As of Friday, STPB already has a total of 146 donors and 149 volunteers from over 30 convener organizations. STPB, which works under the region-wide network Southern Tagalog Serve the People Corps (STPC), also coordinates with volunteers from other provinces in Region IV-A. The Graduate School Student Council holds a separate relief collection method, but will also bring their collections to the STPB. (More on page 3) STPB has already distributed relief packs to almost 1,000 families from Los Ba単os and Bay, Laguna. Volunteers also conduct ocular inspections to assess the situation of nearby communities and determine the needs of the disaster victims. Efforts not to end here After Maring, another calamity threatens the Philippines. The low pressure area near Surigao del Norte in Mindanao has intensified into a tropical depression and has been
named Nando. According to PAG-ASA, Nando may pour an estimate of moderate to heavy rainfall to the Bicol region, CALABARZON and the province of Aurora. Given the looming disaster and the ongoing operations for the victims of Maring, organizers of the said relief initiatives still call for more donations and volunteers. The USC is now bringing their relief efforts to Bi単an, Laguna. They will be distributing relief packs to affected families on Thursday, August 28. Meanwhile, STPB is still urging for individuals to donate or volunteer in order to help the most number of victims. Interested groups or individuals may proceed to the Physical Center at Vega Center. For inquiries, volunteers and donors may contact Third (09152768715) or Kikay (09358702805). [P]
VOLUME 40 SPECIAL ISSUE | AUGUST 27, 2013
GSSC also gathers donations
Set of programs created to collate support for victims of typhoons GUIEN EIDREFSON GARMA The Graduate School Student Council (GSSC) spearheaded Oplan Bayanihan, together with the International House, ACCI and NCPC Dormitories, International Students Association (ISA-SSA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Yakap Kalikasan, Environmental Science Society, Red Cross Youth of UPLB (RCY-UPLB), and Earth Savers International.
Niel Ningal, chairperson of GSSC, told [P] through a text message that as of Sunday afternoon, they were able to collect P7,350 worth of cash donations. However, as of press
time, there is still no available data on in-kind donations. The GSSC has also set a “Massage for a Cause” event on August 27 to 28 at the Graduate School conference room as part of their relief efforts. GSSC is still accepting cash and check donations (Graduate School Student Council, Planters Bank Branch 76 – UP Los Baños Branch, Account Number: 0176041137) and donations in kind at the Graduate School convergence area located at the Graduate School/International House compound. [P]
RECENT DATA ON DAMAGES FROM NATURAL DISASTERS IN THE SOUTHERN TAGALOG REGION
INFOGRAPH BY PAUL CARSON
Due to a number of individuals inquiring why the USC had a separate relief effort (where in fact, history says that USC has always been one of the main convenors to the STPC), [P] opted to obtain a statement from the USC. “I would like to inquire why there should be a clarification on our part of having a separate relief operation? As far as I’m concerned, we are mandated to do a relief operation as a representative body… …On the query of existence of relief operations other than ours, we have always conceived them as comrades. We respect that others, after having some conversations with them, remained to operate separately. We recognize the importance of set dynamics of different formations, but we
have always reiterated that the end of all the efforts is still genuine service to others, making all those relief operations united in spirit. Also, coordination in giving of relief goods was done. We would also like to thank all those relief operations that have existed along the way, we believe that we are all able to reach out and uplift lives of our fellow countrymen in our own special ways.” -Arthur Kent Holt USC Chairperson On the inquiry of separate relief missions
VOLUME 40 SPECIAL ISSUE | AUGUST 27, 2013
A tale of two calamities Once again, the Philippines has been hardhit by its perennial foes. Last week, Tropical Storm Maring along with rains induced by Habagat barraged through Luzon and swept most of NCR and Southern Tagalog provinces with flashfloods. Total damages have reached PHP 630 million and the number of affected individuals has already ticked over 2 million; wherein 25 were reported dead, 30 injured, while three remain missing. However, these figures will appear diminutive if we are to contrast it with the damages brought by a larger, more menacing calamity. Recently, the issue of the pork barrel scam stormed the public with an alarming PHP 10 billion worth of taxpayers’ money involved. These amounts under the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) ironically contradict its very name; or at least we may ask—whose “priority” and “development” are these funds serving? With the current fiasco, answering that question would be stating the obvious. In fact, these aren’t minuscule amounts. PHP 10 billion could already have done a lot to mitigate disasters. That amount would suffice for a restoration project for the forest mangrove cover (PHP 8.3 B) which serves as a natural flood control in large lakes and waterways, plus the remaining two billion for almost four year’s worth of community-based disaster preparedness and response programs. Damages of this “calamity” do not end there. Money lost due to corruption led to unfinished roads and infrastructures, dwindled funds for education and healthcare, and even further exploitation of Filipino workers. It is infuriating how billions of pesos for pork barrel, even over a trillion pesos (if we look at the presidential lump sum funds), are likely being used for corruption instead of actually benefitting the people
from whom this money came from. However, Aquino is not parting with his pork, despite the growing public consciousness that his “matuwid na daan” is nothing but hypocrisy after all. His claim to abolish PDAF is nothing but a pretense for the lump sum allocated for the legislators, and himself, actually remains. The recent heavy rains have further enraged the people and made us realize that it is about time to reallocate commonly misused pork barrel to serve the real recipients’ needs— genuine social services including proper drainage systems, calamity assistance, forest rehabilitation, affordable housing, and comprehensive plans that will prevent fatal damages brought by the disasters. Thus, this is a call for all of us to push for the abolition of pork barrel and stay vigilant for other conduits of corruption that are yet to come. For as long as public funds persist to serve the interest of just the few, the people would continue to carry the burden of the tolls. [P]
VOLUME 40 SPECIAL ISSUE | AUGUST 27, 2013
The first special issue in the 40th volume of the UPLB Perspective, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines -...