Protests and incidences of violence following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 have targeted the slow, discriminative and inefficient reconstruction efforts of the government. The typhoon was the strongest on record and has been suggested by the United Nations to be climate change- related (UN, 2013). It hit some of the poorest and most fragile regions of the Philippines, which have experienced political instability with insurgent groups for decades. Protests and incidences of violence have not caused fatalities.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013 and killed 7,300 people (Linao, 2014). According to the World Meteorological Centre, the super typhoon Haiyan is in trend with scientific predictions regarding climate change and the onset of unprecedented weather events (WMO, 2013). Citizens have accused the government for “abandonment, corruption, deceit and repression” in their approach to post-catastrophe reconstruction, also discriminating against some groups (Linao, 2014).
Although the international community pledged 1.64 billion dollars in humanitarian aid for reconstruction, only 23% of the pledged assistance was received, mostly via non-government organizations and charity groups (Linao, 2014). The typhoon hit some of the poorest areas in the Philippines, some of which have been affected by conflict between independent armed groups (the New People’s Army (NPA)) and the Philippines' military for some time (Walch, 2013). The distribution of aid has caused violent conflict with the NPA, as the NPA claims the government purposefully diverted aid from their regions (Walch, 2013). The government’s lack of funds and unpreparedness to deal with the challenges of reconstruction has also left many homeless, jobless and without basic sanitation months after the disaster hit. Nearly one year after the disaster, 320 people were still living in evacuation centres, 4,760 were in tents and 19,700 were still living in transitional sites or bunkhouses (Aseo, 2014). In 2014, protesters burned an effigy of the president Benigno Aquino in Tacloban in retaliation to poor reconstruction progress while other citizens expressed their discontent with the government and its negligence in a 40-day “climate walk” from Manila to Tacloban. Protestors also demanded greater action to address fragility to climate change.
Protestors and the political opposition are placing pressure on the president to quicken the reconstruction process. There is also growing demand for transparency and accountability in the reconstruction process to prevent fraud from government officials. However, much of the reconstruction remains in the hands of international agencies and NGOs, such as the World Bank or the Philippines-Australia Community Assistance Program (Aseo,2014).