Typhoon Ruby survivors must stand up against government neglect, economic backwardness, exploitation and environmental destruction

By Communist Party of the Philippines

Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) battered the Philippines on 7-9 December. While not as powerful as last year’s Yolanda (Haiyan), typhoon Ruby’s strong winds and torrential rains caused widespread damage along its path. The typhoon caused the biggest damage in Eastern Samar and parts of Northern Samar. It also caused damage in northern Panay, parts of Negros, the islands of Marinduque, Masbate and Mindoro, and in Sorsogon, Batangas, Laguna and Quezon provinces.

It is the oppressed and exploited people who bore the brunt of the recent typhoon. Many of them, particularly those in Eastern Samar and Capiz provinces have yet to fully recover from typhoon Yolanda. Tens of thousands of small peasant families, small fisherfolk and rural and urban poor lost their homes and properties to strong winds and widespread flooding. Heavily silted rivers overflowed and inundated agricultural crops. Water rushing down from logged-over mountains buried entire villages in mud.

As in Yolanda and other calamities, government response to typhoon Ruby has been slow in coming. The Aquino regime deployed its officials but only to carry out nominal work for publicity in the town centers and highways. The social welfare department boasted of delivering planeloads of relief goods but, as before, distribution is limited and inefficient, making it vulnerable to thievery by bureaucrats.

In the majority of coastal and mountainous villages, the Aquino government’s presence and assistance range from non-existent to negligible. The people demand immediate food relief, as well as tools and materials to reconstruct their homes and financial assistance to immediately resume their livelihoods.

The people who suffered the brunt of typhoon Ruby are the ones who have long been suffering from government neglect, economic backwardness, feudal exploitation and the ravages of environmental destruction. The impact of the recent typhoon on their lives is several times more powerful as they suffer from grave poverty.

Over the past few days, the revolutionary and progressive forces have been responding to emergencies and extending relief assistance to the survivors of typhoon Ruby. Prior to the storm, units of the New People’s Army and people’s militias, local branches of the Communist Party of the Philippines and mass organizations coordinated the evacuation of communities to ensure their safety.

Local mass organizations are working doubly hard to coordinate with relief agencies to facilitate the distribution of aid and assistance for survivors of typhoon Ruby. Agencies of the people’s democratic government, concerned committees of the CPP, and revolutionary forces in the areas of devastation are coordinating efforts to collect donations and assistance to augment funds alloted for relief and emergency work.

In the long run, in order to effectively confront natural calamities, the Filipino people’s only recourse is to stand up against oppression and exploitation by the ruling classes of big landlords, big bourgeois compradors and their foreign overlords. They must be able to raise their economic status and their capacity to withstand typhoons by waging land reform campaigns to effect genuine distribution of land and the elimination of usury, raise the prices of their farm produce, improve productivity, and generate additional income through cooperative work.

They must stand up against economic plunder and environmental destruction by foreign big mining and logging companies and their local cohorts. Even now, areas devastated by typhoon Ruby are being targeted by foreign companies for black sand mining and the extraction of other minerals.

The CPP urges the survivors of typhoon Ruby to unite with the survivors of past calamities and victims of the Aquino regime’s neglect. They must stand together to expose and fight the Aquino regime’s continuing failure to address the needs of survivors of natural calamities. They must defend their rights and seek remuneration from the ruling government for its failure to protect and guarantee their lives and livelihood.