Yolanda Death Toll Reaches 5924; UK Aid Not Getting Through?

A month after super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) pummeled the Philippines, nearly 8,000 persons were either dead or missing.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported on Monday (Dec. 9), that fatalities from Yolanda reached nearly 6,000 persons, or 5,924.

Official number of missing persons were at 1,779.

In the immediate aftermath of the typhoon, President Benigno Aquino III downplayed in a CNN interview the estimated 10,000 deaths by a ranking police officer in Eastern Visayas.

Ever since, local chief executives and health officers were asked to submit an official record before it gets added to the official NDRRMC list, a move that slowed down the death count.

But last week, NDRRMC Executive Director Eduardo del Rosario dared his critics to show proof that they are suppressing information on the death count in order to avoid putting Malacanang in a bad light.

Del Rosario threatened to resign if it can be proved that NDRRMC is limiting the death toll.

Yolanda, the strongest storm in world history to make landfall, has affected a population of 12.2 million — four million are still displaced in shelters.

Damage to infrastructure and agriculture was at P35.5 billion.

The storm also destroyed 1,177,194 houses on NDRRMC records.

At least P1,036,779,736.67 worth of relief assistance has been provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health (DOH), local government units, and non-government organizations.

Foreign aid pledges have also reached P21,191,259,734.15 (P3,729,159,695.10 cash and P17,462,100,039.05 non-cash), the government website said.

UK relief aid not getting through?

A British-based media outfit also reported that relief goods intended for typhoon victims was sold in Metro Manila for profit by corrupt local officials.

In a report on Sunday (Dec. 8) by the Daily Mail, relief supplies delivered by military helicopters turned up on the shelves in the affluent districts of Manila.

“Crucial aid sent from Britain to help the victims of typhoon-ravaged areas of the Philippines is being siphoned off and sold for profit by corrupt local officials,” the news report said.

It also quoted an expat identified as Keb Darge, 56, of facing death threats for stopping local officials stealing aid in Samar, one of the hardest-hit areas.

“Only a tiny percentage of the aid is getting through. The situation isn’t going to improve unless there’s an investigation. Someone needs to go and find out exactly what is happening. It is British aid coming in. Why give it to untrustworthy officials to steal? It is ludicrous,” he added.

But on Monday (Dec. 9), the British Embassy in Manila denied the news report.

“We have no evidence of British aid being used for anything other than the relief effort, which is helping hundreds of thousands of Filipinos rebuild their lives,” the British Embassy posted on their website.

“The UK government is working closely with international aid agencies and the Philippine government to ensure we are sending supplies to where they are most needed,” it said.