Philippines: why the typhoon killed

Submitted by Matthew on 13 November, 2013 - 1:02

One of the deadliest storms since records began hit the Philippines on 8 November. Over 10,000 people have died. Extracts from a declaration by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM, a Filipino socialist party), on 10 November.


The people are still reeling from the impact of possibly the biggest typhoon to strike the country. Death toll numbers are rising rapidly. There is huge devastation.

Firstly, we have to support and take whatever measures are necessary to protect the people.

In the hardest hit city of Tacloban, in south eastern Visayas, the people are already taking what food and relief supplies that they need from the malls. The media reports this as looting and the break-down of law and order.

But we say: let our people live. This is not “looting”. People are taking food, where they can get it, in order to survive.

Even some grocery owners understand the need for this. According to one report of a man who broke into a grocery store: “The owner said we can take the food, but not the dried goods. Our situation is so dismal. We have deaths in our family. We need to save our lives. Even money has no use here now”.

Where possible, PLM will assist people to organise to take over food supplies and necessary relief goods.

The government has always been too slow and inadequate. Any efforts are undermined by corruption. The exposure of the organised plunder of development funds by the political elite and sections of government is a testimony to this.

This outraged the country and brought almost half-a-million people out in to the streets in a huge show of protest on August 26. While one plunderer has been arrested, the president has not responded decisively to clean up the system.

The public funds plundered by the elite should have been used for preventive measures - better sea walls and communication infrastructure; early warning systems; well-constructed and safe public housing; health and education; equipment and personnel for rapid emergency response.

Our international “allies”, such as the United States government, have sent us their best wishes. But these so-called “allies” are also responsible for the situation faced by our people.

These typhoons are part of the climate crisis phenomenon faced by the world today. Super Typhoon Haiyan (referred to as Yolanda in the Philippines) was one of the most intense tropical cyclones at landfall on record when it struck the Philippines on November 7. Its maximum sustained winds at landfall were pegged at 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph.

The still-rising greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis are disproportionately emitted by the rich and developed countries, from the US and Europe to Australia. For centuries, these rich, developed countries have polluted and plundered our societies, emitting too much greenhouse gas, to satisfy their greed for profit.

They continue to wage environmentally destructive wars and equip war industries, for corporate profits. All of this has fast-tracked the devastation of the Earth’s ecological system and brought about unprecedented changes in the planet’s climate.

Just as the rich countries demand debt payments from us, we now demand the payment of their “climate debts” - for climate justice and for them to take every necessary measure to cut back their greenhouse gas emission in the shortest time possible.

To be truly resilient we must organise, fight back and take matters in to our own hands, from the relief efforts on the ground to national government and to challenging and putting an end to the capitalist system. This is the only way to ensure that we are truly resilient.

Makibaka, huwag matakot! Fight for our lives, don’t be afraid!

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• Abridged from Green Left Weekly