Year of Sendong’s Children-A A +A
By Nef Luczon
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
IN CAGAYAN DE ORO, it was not the Reproductive Health law that shaped the year 2012 in the city, neither the Ampatuan Massacre anniversary nor St. Pedro Calungsod, Manny Pacquiao or any national news and events that shook the country, but it was still the ghost of tropical storm “Sendong” and its implications that eventually led to some history-altering circumstances.
Because of “Sendong,” the social network, Facebook, has become a powerful tool for expressing outrage and revolt against the current administration of the city, and so the groups of Save CDO Movement, Mata Na CDO, became an alternative avenue in criticizing and taking actions of what they see is “wrong” in the whole system of the local government.
In fact, the group Bangon Kagay-an Inc. has stepped up further by registering itself at the Securities and Exchange Commission, identifying themselves as a socio-political group, as they justified that the city’s problem was “political by nature, and so it must be addressed politically.”
These groups went on filing criminal and administrative charges against the administration for neglect of duty during the height of “Sendong,” as well as its early stages of recovery for being “flat footed” in reaching and responding to people and disaster risk management. It reached the Department of Interior and Local Government in Region X and even after the death of Sec. Jesse Robredo, the complaint was being heard even if the mayor was not present.
To such extent as the filing of candidacies for the national and local elections opened, personalities of these groups like Tito Mora and Nixon Baban decided to run for the 2013 local elections at the Commission on Elections as city councilors under the Liberal Party led by Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno, who plans to contest incumbent Mayor Vicente Emano for the local chief executive post.
These groups were also critical to illegal mining activities in the city and the degradation of Iponan River and its nearby ecosystems, and thus Sulog: One Sendong is Enough movement was created, led by the regional director of Cooperative Development Authority, Orlando Ravanera.
It was the group who initiated talks with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region X and called for an action against illegal mining activities. And weeks later, they led the raid at the Iponan River and caught two Chinese nationals operating the quarry barges, which were believed to be also extracting gold.
Unfortunately, it did not pushed through in leading to a conviction from the local courts. In fact, the Chinese suspects were released and technicalities in filing the case were cited why the complaint had no merits in reaching for a prosecution.
And speaking of illegal mining and “Sendong,” these were the reasons why I and my then camera crew, Michael Tolang and Mike Cabulay, were “threatened” by a village councilor in Barangay Tuburan, Roy Obsioma Yañez, after asking a sensitive question of the barge’s existence in Iponan River. This was on February 1, 2011, even before Sulog was created and the raid took place.
I was then working for GMA Network in Cagayan de Oro and we filed complaints of harassment and an administrative version but it did not pushed through, again citing technicalities in defining the nature of being under threat. As to its administrative counterpart at the city council, it fell into oblivion under the desk of councilor Alvin Calingin, who is supposed to be the chairperson of the blue ribbon committee. God Bless them.
And now, the year 2013 has just begun and according to Chinese zodiac, it is the year of the Water Snake (although it will officially start on January 30 in the Chinese calendar), many were skeptic about the idea that the snake is notoriously a symbol of betrayal and treachery. But come to think of it on the positive side, the snake’s sound is “Hi$$$$$$$$$ing.”
We’ve got mail from Oliver Galupo in San Francisco, California, USA, a reaction from my previous column on “Return of the Bad Bang Boys:”
“Thanks for making a statement about firecrackers. I'm totally against the use of firecrackers, fireworks is okay though regulated (with city hall oversight).
“I fell off my chair by what Councilor Dante Pajo, chair of health and sanitation-city council, said recently (Sun Star, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012) that he was against banning firecrackers because the vendors will be ‘economically hurt.’ This is BS! The first thing he should be concerned about is the general health and well-being of all Kagay-anons -- being the chair of Health and Sanitation -- not those vendors' income who may wish to sell other stuff but firecrakers. Firecrakers are generally not good for our health, it pollutes the air and it's very harmful. I would like to ask councilor Pajo which is important to him, is it the income of the vendors or our health? If it's the vendors -- it must be the election year!
“This is really BS! You see, this is what we get from most of our councilors, much more from our current mayor. Why can Davao City do it? I am to the agreement that our city is really way, way, way behind Davao City. Cagayan de Oro will not grow unless we elect people who have the same mentality as Councilor Pajo. Something needs to be done with these firecrakers. Should he wait how many innocent children and adults who are "maimed" by these senseless firecrakers? I'm wondering and maybe Councilor Pajo and most of our councilors at city hall will change their minds about firecrakers if and when the time comes one of their loved ones or even they will eventually lost a finger or two to these firecrakers.
“In general, this is the same mentality which hinders solving our traffic problems in the city. Our city deserves intelligent, forward-looking public servants.”
Thank you very much Oliver, and more power to you.
(Nef Luczon is a freelance journalist and a part-time communications instructor. He is also a film and art enthusiast. Send comments to email@example.com)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 03, 2013.