'Priority detention cells better than Yolanda bunkhouses'

by Janvic Mateo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 22 2014 12:12 PM | Updated as of Jun 22 2014 08:12 PM

MANILA - A network of supporters, relatives and survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda highlighted the glaring difference between the detention cells for senators involved in the pork barrel fund scam and the bunkhouses built for victims of the typhoon.

“The clear and wide gap of discrepancies between the pork detention cells and the bunkhouses for Yolanda victims and survivors only shows who really the Aquino government is serving,” said Tindog People’s Network spokesman Mark Louie Aquino.

“By the looks of the comparative data, we are angered by the special accommodation being given to pork barrel accused while giving less to the poor victims of Yolanda,” he added.

A side-by-side comparison of the specifications – which has started to make the rounds on social media sites – showed that the detention cells at 32 square meters were almost twice the size of the rooms in bunkhouses, which is only 17.28 sq. meters.

It added the detention cells were made of concrete and have tiled floors, while the bunkhouses were made of cement footing, plywood flooring and walls, coco lumber wooden frames, and GI sheet roofing.

A detention cell also has a toilet bowl, shower and a sink; while those living in a bunkhouse with 12 units only have four comfort rooms.

A common cooking area is allotted for each bunkhouse with 12 units, while the detention cell even has two cabinets. It also noted the lack of furniture in the bunkhouse, while a bed, side table and ceiling fan was provided for the high priority cells.

The Aquino government seems to be coddling officials accused of corruption while neglecting the welfare of the Yolanda survivors, said the network in a statement.

Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Friday was ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan on charges of graft and plunder. He was detained in the detention facility in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Reports said he has complained of migraine due to the heat, and would be requesting the court to allow him to have a cooler inside his cell.

Various memes about Revilla and the supposed special treatment provided for the senators have started to go viral on the Internet.

For instance, a post showed a man, supposedly a thief who admitted stealing a cellphone, had been beaten up for his crime. The author noted the difference between stealing something worth P10,000 and being accused of pocketing millions in government funds.

Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez urged the National Economic and Development Authority to integrate disaster resiliency and risk reduction in its 10-year development plan.

Rodriguez said recent natural and man-made calamities in the country resulted in relatively fewer casualties yet higher damage costs and economic losses.

While there is strengthened disaster preparedness and response capacity and capability, this could also mean that not enough is being done to assess and address natural hazard risks as an integral part of development planning and investment, he said.

“Higher damage costs and increasing economic losses are a result of unsustainable development and mal?adaptation initiatives, such as from unplanned urbanization and the unsustainable management of land and natural resources that increase exposure to hazards,” Rodriguez said.

It is also important to coordinate laws, policies and institutional mechanisms for addressing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, especially in the context of overall development planning, he said.

“There is a need to ensure that there is a synergy between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation at the highest levels by developing specific policies at both the international and local levels on the linkages between reducing disaster risk and responding to climate change,” Rodriguez said.

Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the House committee on national defense and security, also called on the executive department to utilize the engineering brigades of the Armed Forces in the reconstruction and rehabilitation projects of the government as “a cost effective approach.” With Paolo Romero