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'Disaster capitalism' should not be allowed to flourish after Typhoon in Philippines

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 8th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Following the tumult and disaster of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the nation must now turn to rebuild destroyed homes, businesses and farmlands. However, there is a brazen entrepreneur at work that seeks to capitalize on all the mass destruction and untold human tragedy. Analysts say that a compromised land must not fall into the hands of "disaster capitalists" still mourning the loss of their loved ones.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In the book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," author Naomi Klein says that any great natural disaster has been seized upon by governments, international financial institutions like the World Bank and corporations.

Disaster capitalism is best explained as finding "exciting marketing  opportunities" in the wake of major crises while people are still in shock or suffering from trauma. Klein in her 2007 book uses the experiences of fishing communities in Sri Lanka that were affected by the 2004 tsunami.

In the aftermath of tat disaster, coastal and farming communities faced land and tenure disputes. In the meantime, private companies with government backing - found an opportunity to push their own agendas during rebuilding. 

The report, "Addressing Land Ownership after Natural Disasters," underscored the danger in "the displacement of large numbers of people without clearly defined land ownership (which) can enable private and government 'land grabs.'"

The disparity here between the individual and the corporation here was overt.  The government created unsafe "buffer zones" and prevented villagers from returning because due to safety issues - while allowing developers to construct beach resorts and hotels.

Now, in the Philippines, sea gypsy families have been displaced during the Zamboanga conflict. They're due to be relocated away from the sea, which is not only a source of livelihood but also culture for this ethnic community - "it's everything they have," Clarissa Militante, coordinator of Focus on the Global South-Philippines says.

"In Tacloban, there used to be communities of farmers, fishermen, indigenous people and entrepreneurs in the areas devastated by Haiyan," she adds. 

Newly appointed cabinet member in the Philippines, former Senator Panfilo Lacson, has been tasked as the "presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery."

The Filipino government will "tap the private sector" so that rehabilitation can do away with "bureaucratic red tape," as the private sector is deemed more efficient. Lacson says that one of his main challenges would be "motivating investors" to invest in the reconstruction of the devastated areas. The government plans to allocate $916 million in U.S. dollars for rehabilitation. Lacson says he'd rather tap the private sector and foreign donor community first and then use this fund.

This perturbs Militante. "Why is it always touted that the private sector is more efficient? And why can't government do its job and be efficient in doing it?"

Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...

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