Poe, Escudero: 'Unconditional' cash transfer for victims

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and her running mate Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero want "unconditional" cash transfer for calamity victims in Leyte and Samar.

Escudero said on Friday, February 26, help for calamity victims should be unconditional and quick to help them get back on their feet without having to fulfill certain requirements to qualify for government aid.

"Dapat naman siguro, walang kondisyon 'yung tulong na ibibigay sa mga taong nalugi o dumapa dahil nasalanta ng bagyong Yolanda, Ruby at Seniang. Ano pa kaya ang kondisyong ibibigay mo kung naubos na lahat ng kasangkapan nila pati bahay nila?" Escudero asked.

(It should be that assistance given to victims of Yolanda, Ruby and Seniang is without condition. What other condition can you give if all their belongings, including their houses, are gone?)

Currently, the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme being implemented by the social welfare department, provides for a monthly stipend of P1,400 given to each family-beneficiary – provided their children regularly attend school, and the mothers, if pregnant, seek pre-and post-natal care. These conditions are envisioned to help improve the health, nutrition, and education of children coming from poor families.

Escudero stressed that under "Gobyernong may Puso", "itutuloy po naming ni Senator Grace Poe ang CCT at dadagdagan pa namin ng dalawang component: livelihood para sa mga beneficiaries at unconditional cash transfer para sa mga tinamaan ng bagyo." (Senator Grace Poe and I will continue and even add two components to CCT: livelihood for beneficiaries and unconditional cash transfer for those hit by typhoons.)

"This will equip recipients with skills and training to help them become self-sufficient and help wean them away from government dole-outs," Escudero said.

Escudero and Poe were at the RTR Plaza in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Disaster preparedness

Poe encouraged all local government units in the region to complete geohazard mapping in their respective areas and to disseminate information on how to read it, not only to local officials but residents as well. She said they should know how the map can help them in their disaster risk reduction and management efforts base on their geographical location.

According to Poe, people in every barangay in Leyte and Samar need to know whether they are living in a high risk area or not. They need information before typhoon signals are raised to avoid, if not minimize, casualties.

"No local officials will ever put their own people at risk by relocating them to danger zones. However, due to lack of information, many have died because the relocation sites themselves are geohazard areas," Poe added.  

"We should plan our cities and municipalities accordingly.  We should arm our LGUs with the right tools to ensure that Eastern Visayas will always be prepared and resilient to disaster," Poe said.

Poe, who topped the 2013 senatorial race with 344,016 votes from Leyte, stressed that politics should never play a role in preventing and addressing the impact of a calamity.

Eastern Visayas is among the country's typhoon belt areas and is often visited by 20 typhoons a year.

Still waiting for assistance

Meanwhile, Makabayan senatorial candidate Representative Neri Colmenares, who was in the city together with Poe and Escudero, said during a press conference that the Aquino administration and its presidential bet Manuel "Mar" Roxas II have a long list of sins against Leyte and other typhoon victims. He described the present administration as inutile, disorganized, and guilty of criminal negligence.

Until now victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda, Ruby and Seniang both in Leyte and Samar, according to Colmenares are still waiting for their Emergency Shelter Assistance as promised by the national government.

Records from the Tacloban City Housing Office showed that for more than 14,000 permanent shelters to be constructed by the National Housing Authority (NHA) intended for families living in danger zones, only 2,000-plus have been constructed.

Colmenares said, "Hindi po natin kailangan ang ganitong mga opisyal dahil hindi lang palpak, wala pang puso at kapag pinuna mo sila pa ang galit." (We don't need these types of officials because they are not only incompetent, they are also without heart and get angry when criticized.) – Rappler.com