FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2009
Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chair, GABRIELA USA (415) 244-9734, firstname.lastname@example.org
“While the loss in lives and homes brought about by Typhoon Ondoy were overwhelming, the outpouring of support and solidarity for the people of the Philippines, has been equally tremendous” says Raquel Redondiez, chair of GABRIELA USA . The Filipino women’s alliance has been able to raise $5000 in just one weeks time through a grassroots fundraising effort. But unlike most other relief efforts, the women of GABRIELA USA is also committed to conduct education on the causes of the devastation.
Typhoon Ondoy hit without warning and while it was the most rainfall in 4 decades, the damage to lives and homes it caused was exacerbated by environmental degradation, development aggression in surrounding areas around Manila, and lack of public infrastructure and preparedness due to government neglect and corruption. A month before the typhoon, it was exposed that the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo diverted 800 million Philippine pesos of calamity funds to use for her expensive foreign travels.
“As a result of her administrations ineptitude and corruption, over 300 people, many women and children, have perished and millions displaced.” said Joanna Maderazo, Chair of BABAE in San Francisco. “It specially hits home when just among GABRIELA organizers, 12 have lost their children to the floods.”
The GMA administration has also received millions of international aid that is supposed to be used towards calamity relief and preparedness and yet when the floods came, there were only 13 rubber boats available in the whole country for emergency response.
“Unfortunately, we cannot trust the Philippine government to protect its people. Given our own experience watching the devastation caused by Katrina a few years ago, and the similar government neglect, incompetence and corruption experienced by families in the South, support and solidarity between the American and Filipino people is vital to the relief and rehabilitation work” said Jackelyn Mariano of FIRE (Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment) in New York.
Next week, five members of GABRIELA USA, will travel to the Philippines to deliver the donations, and participate in rehabilitation work. The Filipino women’s organization is enraged that Arroyo’s administration is trying to tax donations and place bureaucratic obstacles to grassroots relief efforts. “Its just another example of how cold and corrupt her regime is. We want to make sure that the donations we raise will go directly to the victims of the typhoon, and not to enrich some government official.” said Claudia Alexandra Paras, Chair of PINAY, the Seattle-based member organization of GABRIELA USA.
“GABRIELA, which is composed of over 200 Filipino women’s organizations has the genuine commitment, track-record, and grassroots organization to ensure that donations reach those most in need.” said Terrie Cervas of SIGAW (Sisters of GABRIELA Awaken) in Los Angeles. “Contributions to GABRIELA will not only go towards the repairing of homes, but also the building of self-reliant and empowered families and communities that can protect themselves in future calamities.”