2013 Wrap Up

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Sunday, December 29, 2013


CAGAYAN DE ORO – Year 2013 has been difficult for the country. It has been whacked with various catastrophic disasters -- man-made and natural.

For one, Cagayan de Oro City has not fully recovered yet from the devastation of Tropical Storm Sendong two years after it claimed more than a thousand lives and millions worth of properties.

Until now, survivors are still clamoring for the lack of basic amenities such as water in their relocation sites. Not only that, they are also pleading for decent and stable sources of income. Most of them have preferred to go back to where everything was inundated – lives and properties, in order to eke out a living and economically live a little better despite the lack of decent shelters.

The new city administration vows to work hard on ironing out the relocation sites that will expand to providing new shelters for the informal settlers in the city. The need to resettle them away from danger zones is a must to avert further damage whenever flooding occurs.

Elections

As the local elections in May 2013 were approaching, outgoing Gingoog City mayor Ruthie Guingona and her convoy were waylaid in a checkpoint manned by the New People's Army fighters in a hinterland barangay of the city. Guingona was badly hurt and traumatized while two of her escorts died. The NPA admitted its involvement but justified the action that Guingona's convoy didn't heed the call for them to stop that prompted the NPA fighters to shoot at it. They claimed they weren't aware that it was Guingona's convoy and accused the latter for violating the warning not to bring arms when campaigning or entering the revolutionary lair. [Read story]

Oro bombing

On July 26, 2013, an improvised explosive device rocked Rosario Arcade in Limketkai center. It killed eight including two doctors and medical representatives who were attending a national conference held at Grand Caprice. It wounded several others. The manhunt against the suspected bomber Usman Hapids has been raised since August but until now there hasn't any update yet on this case. Then, a week later series of bombings rocked Mindanao starting on a Cotabato City street where an IED placed inside a multicab exploded that killed eight and wounded 40. [Read story]

Zambo siege

The Zamboanga City siege in September seemingly opened the series of unfortunate events in the country. For more than three weeks, rogue members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) swooped downtown Zamboanga City that displaced thousands of residents who were taking shelter in tent cities there. The siege reached to a humanitarian crisis that United Nations has called for the pouring in of assistance to the populace affected. More than a hundred died, mostly MNLF members, government forces and civilians. Many were also wounded including Red Cross staff and volunteers. [Read story]

Natural calamities

In October 2013, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake toppled churches in Bohol. It displaced almost the entire communities affected and it also claimed lives.

Even before the communities have begun picking up the pieces, another calamitous disaster hit several provinces in the country rock bottom.

In November this year, tropical storms and typhoon also hit the region. There were Wilma, Yolanda and Zoraida and the Kagay-anons weathered them with the massive campaign on disaster management and the sheer luck that Yolanda slowed down in these areas. Unfortunately, it flattened areas that were the hardest hit, eastern Visayas.

The catastrophic disaster sent the international communities rushing to bring help to a government that turned stone and helpless as the aftermath unfolded before their very eyes.

It has also sent the Filipinos to pack right away stuff the survivors needed. It has unified the haves and have-nots to bring help.

Maoist fighters’ offensives

Then came the tactical offensives of the NPA fighters against government forces in nearby Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon provinces. They burned equipment from various companies including Del Monte Philippines on February 20 this year and some small mining companies operating in Claveria town in Misamis Oriental. They also raided a pig farm in Talakag Bukidnon in October also this year on the grounds of allegedly inflicting harm to the environment and on the low wages the workers are receiving. They also raided the police stations in Malitbog, Kibawe towns in Bukidnon and Don Victoriano town in Misamis Occidental. It killed one police in Kibawe and wounded two others.

Recently, during the 45th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on December 26, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) spokesperson for Mindanao, Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos, told reporters the NPA fighters will intensify its tactical offensives. [Read story]

City crimes

Who couldn’t forget the rape of a two-year old girl during the Lent? Three men raped the girl and brutally pounded her but she survived. Two of the suspects were arrested while the alleged mastermind eluded arrest for several months but in June he was finally caught in Davao City and brought back here to face his crime.

There was a nine-year old girl who was raped and killed by a minor.

The ‘drugs war’ has resulted to the killings of gang members like Batang Mindanao and Batman 357. The police denied any extra judicial killing or summary execution since it has not involved any police according to Adonis Mutya, chief of the city investigation and detective management branch (CIDMB) of the Cagayan de Oro Police Office (Cocpo).

Mutya said the killing of gang members is not ‘summary execution’ because the term suggests that the murders are committed by the police, military or paramilitary groups.

“We cannot establish a pattern on the killings. Those are just killings,” said Mutya adding that most of the victims are members of BM 29.

Road mishaps

The CIDMB disclosed that road mishaps in the city have reached damages amounting to P20 million. These mishaps involved 7,689 various kinds of vehicles that injured 2,053 individuals. It has pending cases of 3,940.

The month of July topped in terms of mishaps on the road with damages amounting to P2 million that involved 869 vehicles of which 136 are motorcycles and 198 cars.

The same report showed that car accidents are still on top, constituting 22 percent of all reported accidents, followed by motorcycle accidents with 20 percent.

Also in July, 359 vehicle-to-vehicle accidents were reported, injuring 175 individuals and with one death. The pending cases in the same month alone totaled to 406.

Economic growth

The economic growth in Northern Mindanao Region is inevitable. It has turned Cagayan de Oro City its economic and investment hub. Thus, the local government units must be prepared for this unprecedented growth that spells so much preparation vis-à-vis economy, environment and the people.

The region must look forward to address the things that may hamper this growth and the lives of the people. The need to strengthen the disaster management and urban planning in key cities and towns in the regions must work together.

The country and the people have experienced horrible events this year, but as another year comes in, there is still so much room for hope and bright future with careful planning. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 29, 2013.

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