TACLOBAN CITY – Five years since the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), victims still await for the distribution of cash assistance such as the 5,000-peso Presidential Financial Assistance (PFA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) assistance for students in tertiary education enrolled during the devastation, and the Presidential Social Fund (PSF) for government employees. According to the disaster survivors’ group People Surge, thousands have not received the cash assistance yet.
This includes the employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office VIII who are still at an unrest after People Surge, through a consultation last October 24, exposed the status of their PSF which is not a public trust fund but is a discretionary fund of the Office of the President, contrary to what the public knows. This gives the Office of the President a jurisdiction over the fund.
This spells much dismay on the part of the government employees who have been waiting for the PSF’s distribution since the release of Presidential Management Staff Julia Andrea Abad’s January 7, 2014 memorandum tackling the guidelines for the distribution. According to 2017 DENR Employees Union President Boy Cremente, the discretionary nature of the fund place the state of the employees’ welfare in tight predicament and a state of uncertainty.
One employee also exposed that some of them are miscategorized under “partially damaged houses” instead of “totally damaged”. Those who fall under the former will receive P30,000.00 while those who are categorized under the latter will receive P100,000.00
Meanwhile, the faculty members of the Department of Education (DepEd) from San Jose Central School, San Jose National High School, Panalaron Central School and Kapangian Central School also shared the same sentiments on the long-time undistributed PSF.
The Aquino and Duterte administrations’ inefficiency to distribute the Yolanda aid have left the employees embroiled in P200,000.00 housing loans.
“If you look at the history of PMS, President Duterte disapproved the PSF for the third batch of beneficiaries, affecting 9,091 government employees in mid-2016. What is stopping him from changing the guidelines or narrowing down the list of beneficiaris in the first and second tranche?” People Surge Chairperson Dr. Efleda Bautista pressed.
The PFA beneficiaries from Biliran, Calbiga and Pinabacdao in Samar, on the other hand, stormed the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Devopment (DSWD) Regional Office VIII yesterday, November 6, to check on the status of the distribution of PFA. Pressured by the people’s demands, DSWD Regional Director Restituto Macuto agreed to release the list of recipients to be endorsed this month. Also, the agency pledged to investigate on the allegations that the PFA fund is being used for cash-for-work programs in the towns of Laoang and Catubig in Northern Samar. It was also revealed that victims of typhoon Urduja in the Biliran province will also receive an Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA).
People Surge and the Yolanda aid beneficiaries are set to hold a mobilization on November 8 and occupy the streets of Tacloban City to decry the government’s criminal neglect as evidenced by the undistributed Yolanda assistance.