Should 'Yolanda' survivors be given cash?

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2014 06:30 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2014 02:30 AM

MANILA - The Palace said it will need to study the feasibility of the reported petition of a number of Yolanda survivors asking that they be given cash instead for reconstruction.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said there may be limitations on giving cash to Yolanda survivors.

"We try to make do with the attendant benefit, meaning doon sa socialized housing, doon sa pagtatayo doon sa mga ibang programs that try to address their needs apart from relief. It will have to be discussed at least by the relevant agencies with the President on how feasible that would be," she said.

She added that reports about violation of the prize freeze are being passed on to Department of Trade and Industry.

According to a Samar News report, the Alyansa han mga Biktima han Bagyo Yolanda ha Tacloban or Alliance of Typhoon Yolanda Victims in Tacloban (ABBAT) is demanding from the Aquino government P40,000 in "immediate financial assistance" for every family affected by Yolanda.

The report said the money should be released on or before February 14, 2014.

Patrick Escalona, community leader of ABBAT, said the P40,000 is enough for two months of food and non-food items such as clothing, housing, transportation, health, education, and others for a family of six.

"However, given the lack of government control over prices, the prices of basic commodities increased by as much as 50 to 100% in typhoon-hit areas like Tacloban City. It means that the P40,000 immediate relief could hardly compensate for the basic food and non-food needs of a six-member family even for a month," the report said.

Escalona criticized the "snail-paced and unsystematic delivery of food packs and shelter relief kits" two months after the super typhoon struck the region.

"If the government can easily allocate pork barrel funds for congressmen and the President, there is no reason why the same government cannot provide immediate monetary relief for us victims," he said.