It’s Official: The Philippine Government Is Under-reporting the Death Toll, and It’s Very Disturbing

Based on statements made by President Aquino, and reporting from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, it is now absolutely clear that the Philippine government is intentionally under-reporting fatalities from Typhoon Haiyan. The President and NDRRMC openly admit that, for example, only the identified dead, certified by a coroner’s report, are added to the count. When unidentified victims are buried — they die not only without a name, but without their death being added to the total. And in Tacloban alone there are currently 1,755 bodies recovered between November 15 and 21 which are unidentified and are not included in the official count of 5,235 that was announced on Saturday.

Filipinos are brilliant at being self-critical, yet are sometimes touchy when a foreigner wades into the fray.  And so I am very, very hesitant to raise my foreign voice in this sensitive matter. But I do have 65 family members who are homeless as a result of the typhoon, and so I will risk saying the following because it needs to be said.  There is something deeply disturbing about the deliberate manipulation of the death toll by under-reporting the fatalities. It’s as if the unidentified dead don’t matter — as if their lives don’t warrant recognition. President Aquino’s explanation as quoted in the Inquirer and elsewhere: “We want to give figures [that cannot be doubted], because we don’t want to increase the people’s anxiety, especially those with missing relatives.”

Huh?

Mr. President, the government’s figures ARE doubted precisely BECAUSE the government is holding back the truth. People know the death toll is much higher than is being acknowledged. The policy you’re describing is simply a government in denial. Being in denial about the death toll gives no comfort to the families of the missing. Now, 17 days after the typhoon struck, they know what “missing” means, and the government pretending otherwise gives them no comfort.

It is also deeply offensive that the government sacked regional police director for Eastern Visayas, Chief Supt. Elmer Soria, for quotig the figure of 10,000 (that now seems likely to be low, if true figures are ever released) before a briefing by Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla on Nov. 9.  The sacking of Soria and the foolish system of reporting the death toll undermines the government’s credibility.

Worse, it is an affront to the families of the missing.

There is still time to correct this and make it right for the families, and for the memories of the unnamed dead.

For more on this read:   http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/534847/president-concedes-yolanda-death-toll-has-doubled#ixzz2liVoxfNG

UPDATE: Read Leo Reyes Op-Ed on the subject.

Use your own voice on social media — share this article and Leo’s article.

16 thoughts on “It’s Official: The Philippine Government Is Under-reporting the Death Toll, and It’s Very Disturbing

  1. Pardon my words, that’s how fucked up this government of Benigno Aquino! Disaster response officials, although not all, are not only inutile, they are fucking unreliable…this country is completely messed up!

  2. The time that PNoy had declared that the estimate death toll of 10,000 is an exaggeration and had the official, who said the estimate, kicked out, I know that this would really happened. I think the reason of under reporting the actual death toll is that PNoy is afraid to eat up all what he said. And i think, that would not be fair. Sacrificing the honor of their death and the welfare of the the victims just for his reputation is a disgusting attitude.

  3. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but the Inquirer is a fairly established newspaper. I have a theory though, and here me out here because this is very possible (as crazy as it sounds). First, who has the most to gain from under reporting the death tolls? Wouldn’t it be the SSS, Philhealth and other branches of Philippine government who wouldn’t have to process tons of death benefit claims (or maybe they can process the claim and pocket the money for themselves!). I know money isn’t probably the primary concern of the grieving families, but it’s a huge potential gain for the government. Also, if the money was already spent by corrupt officials years before, under reporting the death toll would mean less money to be paid out and less chances that their budget deficit because of corruption won’t be exposed.

    1. you are 99.9 percent correct….our government are trying to whitewash everything to save a face. very disturbing indeed….

  4. the Yellow president is simply an incompetent brat and a maleducated oligarch insensitive to the plight of the masses, when he bungled in his shallow and inaccurate statement about the tragedy it’s merely borne from raw stupidity as he merely won the presidency by equally stupid votes being duped by oligarch owned Yellow Media to serve oligarchic interest for its crass greed.

  5. Hey, guys! Before you draw your conclusions and make your comments, PLEASE ASK YOURSELF WHETHER THE ALLEGED NEW S STORIES YOU ARE READING and BASING YOUR COMMENTS ON ARE TRUE and CORRECT. What will the Philippine President or the Philippine Government gain if they are INTENTIONALLY “UNDER REPORTING THE DEATH TOLL”? What will they gain from it? On the other hand, if they go the opposite way and OVER STATE THE NUMBER OF CASUALTIES, there is a big chance that MORE AID will come in. DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU READ FROM THE LOCAL PAPERS! In the PHILIPPINES, PRESS RELEASES can be PAID FOR allowing you to twsist the truth! Sad but true!

    1. Dennis, yours is a fair concern. However the quote from President Aquino comes from a responsible and carefully researched article in one of the major broadsheets. If the government or the President want to revise what they’ve said or better yet, change their system — that would be the best possible outcome. But it is not unreasonable to hold them accountable for what they have been quoted as saying in a major national daily. People aren’t being stupid. Also, the Inquirer article in question does not attack the President for what he said — it just reports it, and simultaneously reports other facts from other sources, such as the fact that 1900++ bodies recovered from Nov 15-21 in Tacloban are unidentified and are not included in the count. Finaly there are many, many reports out there citing the President’s “system” for counting bodies …. a system which does not add a body to the tally until it has been certified by a coroner and death certificate issued, and they don’t issue a death certificate unless they know what name to put on it. In sum, it’s not people being overly gullible and believing erroneous reporting. It’s you giving far too much of a benefit of the doubt to the administration.

      And by the way, I had wanted to write about this several days earlier but thought I would wait. It was only when it became “official” by the Presidet describign the system (hence the headline starting with “It’s Official”) that I wrote.

  6. That is not fair!!! I have friends, who up to now looking for their families…Kindly put your feet in their shoes, and tell me how you feel? Please!!! Be human…

    1. Fair to whom? the death toll is the number of deaths – identified or not. whether your relatives are missing (sorry to hear that) does not change the definition of death toll! how about a separate identified number of deaths and a total actual number of deaths? the latter being the true death toll. getsung? gets? kuha?

      1. Michael Sellers, if you was government, you’d do the same thing. What with CNN or Intl media preempting the news when hours after the typhoon they reported 10,000 dead.. That’s the way you guys make a living. Don’t worry we’ll eventually get to that figure. ( example 5,500 and 4,500 unaccounted for) Do not push us around just because you are media and can influence public opinion. It is our country. The tragic calamity came at a time when there was a concerted political and media campaign to discredit this administration’s capacity to govern. Who could be the powerful people who can afford a media campaign such as the recent trend of reporting. Thence, the calamity and international media came. I know you guys mean well , we all have to make a living. You’ll need to support our government not criticize it. You needed to be objective or if you cannot be objective try to exchange places and manage the relief ops. Instead. It is us filipinos, living inside this country who will suffer. Media is affecting the way the filipinos outside of the country see things. Instead of doing good or being focused on their personal and professional lives they may think negative of their countrymen’s capacity to respond correctly. More especially so, if they have relatives in the affected areas. then they would get sensitive and will not see things objectively. However way you see it, i pray to God to give you a better scoop, and Godspeed!….I am just a regular guy, (an old dog) that supports any sitting president. Am looking after the economy. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

        1. Thank you for your comment. You may have missed the fact that I’m not CNN or official media. I have 60 relatives rendered homeless by the typhoon in Guinob-an, Lawaan, Eastern Samar. I am a very tiny private voice and can’t push anyone around. All I can do is use my voice, as you have in your comment, to call attention to matters that seem important to me. I urge you to continue to folow this story carefully and to not be blinded by your support for the President. Sometimes supporting your President requires that you be critical in order that he can “hear” you. Those who opposed the policy are not necessarily politically opposed to President Aquino … they just want fairness and respect for all the victims, not just those who are identified.

          1. Thank you for telling the truth. The Aquino government wants to reduce the death toll to minimize the scale of their incompetence. How else can one explain the rule that each municipality must submit a notarized report signed by the mayor and health officer before the count will be added to the tally? The talk in Tacloban these days is that the true death toll is probably between 10,000 to 20,000. – a concerned Filipino.

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