Anger is mounting in the Philippines over what is widely seen as a slow and inadequate relief effort from the government. The death toll from the flash floods has jumped to 140, and is expected to continue rising as people look for missing relatives. At least 450,000 have been affected, including 150,00 displaced. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called it a “once-in-a-lifetime typhoon” that “has strained our response capabilities to the limit.”
Arroyo ordered an emergency center set up today, two days after the flooding began. “There was a massive failure in government,” said a member of a policy think-tank. “The root cause is you have a government whose predominant occupation is graft.” The lethargic response promises to hurt the administration’s presidential candidate, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, in next year’s election. “His 0.2% popularity could by zero by now,” said one political analyst.