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Philippines: Climate change crisis hits world's poor hardest -- again

Floods in Marikina, Manila. Photo courtesy of Dave Llavanes Jr.

By Peter Boyle

August 9, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "The situation is pretty grim", Reihana Mohideen told Green Left Weekly from the frontline of devastating floods that have submerged half of Manila over the last few days. "It's still raining hard and hard to get around."

"This is another painful reminder of the global climate change crisis and the pain is being felt most by the poor and most oppressed."

Mohideen was part of a team delivering basic supplies, collected at the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) national office, to urban poor and working-class comunities. These include canned goods, instant noodles, milk, coffee, sugar, biscuits, bread, basic medicines and towels. The PLM is one of a number of progressive people's organisations doing relief work with very limited resources.

"Today we tried to get to the evacuation centre in Marikina. There were supposed to be 1000 families at the evacuation centre. But we never got there as we had to attend to the affected communities along the way", Mohideen reported. "We've just left Barangay Industrial Valley Complex in Marikina, where we were delivering lugaw [rice porridge]. Still flooded here. People are cleaning out rubbish that has collected near their homes. Some said that they hadn't eaten since last night and were quite angry that we got there only today.

"We are appealing for aid and volunteers (to help distribute aid) to come directly to our office at: #13 Rigor St., Brgy. Masagana, Proj. 4, QC."

These are the worst floods since catastrophic floods in 2009 which killed more than 460 people. The death toll from the current floods is 56 but expected to rise. Already more than a quarter of a million people have fled their homes.

"These massive floods are caused not by a typhoon but by a monsoon rain," Mohideen explained. "The flood waters though have reached the same levels or even exceeded that during typhoon Ondoy in 2009."

"This emerging pattern of increasingly extreme weather conditions has to be related to climate change, and those suffering the worst impact of it are the poor. The lack of adequate housing, drainage and canals, water catchments to collect water, hit the urban poor who are more than 80% of the population in Metro Manila, especially hard. This, combined with lack of information and awareness means the adaptation mechanisms of the population is extremely weak.

"We are doing what we can. but the only way that disasters on this scale can be mitigated is through the state, or government intervention. For example, today we couldn't reach some of the communities from where our organisers were appealing for assistance because of the floods. We need boats and helicopters to get out. But for this we need a government committed to the interests of the people. A government that is based on the protection of elite rule will not be able to effectively handle disaster response and such crises.

"We know how effectively Cuba handles disaster response. It has been identified as a world's best practice by the UN. The Philippine government is far cry from the Cuban standard."

Through the people's organisation, Transform Asia, an international appeal for emergency aid has been issued. Donations can be sent to:

Transform Asia Flood Appeal:
Now donations can be made via PayPal.
  • Go to the Transform Asia website or the PLM website and press the "donate" button.
  • For those with PayPal accounts you can also send donations to via PayPal and it will be sent directly to the Transform Asia flood appeal account.
  • Or donate directly to the flood appeal at:
    Transform Asia Gender and Labor Institute
    Account No. 304-2-30400456-2
    Swift Code: MBTCPHMM
    Metro Bank, Anonas
    Branch: Aurora Blvd, Project 4
    Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
    Mobile No. +63 (0)9088877702


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