PLCPD leads ‘Yolanda’ commemoration, honors ICCO

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) convened on Wednesday, December 9 development-oriented and human rights organizations to stand in solidarity with survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda in the struggle to claim their right to adequate housing and recognize the contributions of ICCO Cooperation in rebuilding affected communities.

ICCO Cooperation, an international non-governmental organization has been in the country since 1968, working on various advocacies including social justice, agrarian reform, rural development and popular empowerment. ICCO has been supporting PLCPD in many of the latter’s campaigns and initiatives on human development issues such as environmental protection, social enterprise, and business and human rights.

When ‘Yolanda’ struck the Philippines in November 2013, ICCO mobilized its partner-organizations to distribute relief goods, provide psycho-social aid, shelter and livelihood assistance, and capacitate people’s organizations. ICCO also tapped PLCPD to review existing policies and programs on post-Yolanda rehabilitation and engage lawmakers to enact new legislation that will address bottlenecks in its implementation.

“It’s been two years since ‘Yolanda’ and yet thousands of families still live in danger zones or in transitional houses that lack basic utilities and livelihood opportunities,” Romeo C. Dongeto, PLCPD executive director, lamented.

“Adequate housing is a fundamental human right that guarantees all peoples not just four walls and a roof to live in but a suitable place to call home safe from natural hazards and with access to sustainable livelihood,” Hon. Etta Ann Rosales, former Commission on Human Rights chairperson, who graced the solidarity event, said.

Under her leadership, CHR came up with a report that lays down the human rights standards on housing, land and property rights of populations affected by ‘Yolanda.’

Rosales admitted though that the challenge to fully rehabilitate affected communities and fulfill the rights of ‘Yolanda’ survivors remains huge.

For his part, Rep. Rodel Batocabe said that we should work together to rebuild these communities and come up with long-term and sustainable solutions that will address their increasing vulnerability to disasters because of climate change.

Rep. Teddy Baguilat expressed hope that with the collective action of organizations such as PLCPD and ICCO, we could build a more sustainable, safer and resilient future.

The organizations present during the event committed their continuing active involvement for this advocacy, as they thanked ICCO for supporting them throughout the years.

PLCPD also launched a mini-documentary entitled Pagtindog (To Rise) where Yolanda survivors recalled their experiences during ‘Yolanda’ and shared how ICCO’s interventions have helped them to rebuild their lives and communities.