Philippine non-government organizations receiving financial support from abroad go to the aid of the poorest Filipinos devastated by natural and manmade disasters. However, they are often victims of harassment and anti-communist violence by security officials of the Manila government. UPDATES Philippines gathered some recent successes and struggles of these humanitarian NGOs.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck northern Luzon on 27 July 2022, triggering landslides and the collapse of public and private infrastructures across the region, and as far as Metro Manila. The town of Bucay, in Abra province, further suffered 27 aftershocks with record intensities of 5. Abang village in Bucay was one of the most affected, damaging among others their main water system.
The local NGO Serve the People Brigade – Cordillera, facilitated the repair of Abang’s water system. In coordination with the community organization Abang Indigenous People’s Development Organization and another local NGO Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera, they provided food packs and construction materials to the community residents who worked on the rehabilitation project.
Aside from the waterworks rehabilitation project in Abang village, the STPB-Cordillera reported the delivery of 900 relief packs for an estimated 871 families in three villages.
In Leyte province, in eastern Visayas, the Leyte Center for Development reported in September 2022 the handover of 15 motorized fishing boats to poor fisher families in three towns of the province. LCDe also distributed food packs, hygiene kits, shelter repair kits and solar lamps to 458 households in the area. Super typhoon Odette (International name: Rai) destroyed the communities’ infrastructure and livelihood in December 2021.
The LCDe said the Tijori Foundation, CARE Philippines, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Founders for Philippine Progress provided financial support to these relief and rehabilitation efforts. The NGO, however, is subjected to harassment and red-tagging by officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the anti-communist NTF-ELCAC.
In Aklan province, in central Visayas, three grassroots organizations conducted a two-day humanitarian mission on 12 and 13 October in fishers’ villages affected by threats, harassment and armed attacks of the AFP. The fishers’ alliance PAMALAKAYA-Aklan, peasant alliance Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and patriotic alliance BAYAN visited Cawayan village to determine the condition of the residents and to provide humanitarian support.
AFP soldiers have been conducting military maneuvers in the villages for the past three months. They garrisoned village halls and conducted house-to-house interrogations and searches without warrants. They accused members of community organizations of being New People’s Army members and forced them to ‘surrender’.
In Mindanao island, the Marcos government’s Department of Justice filed charges of ‘terrorist financing’ against 16 people, including five nuns, who are members of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. The DOJ alleged that the RMP finances the NPA, which the Manila government tags as a ‘terrorist organization’.
The RMP, formed in 1969, is a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines. In Mindanao, they provide support for indigenous communities, in particular the network of indigenous lumad schools, targeted by the AFP and the anti-communist NTF-ELCAC as ‘communist recruiting grounds’.