Coping with the calamity-A A +A
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
WHILE Malacañang is defending itself from criticisms about its about-to-dry-up calamity fund, victims of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu a week ago are picking up the pieces. They are struggling each day in order to survive.
In Bohol, majority of the victims must have already received relief goods from government agencies and the private sector that conducted relief assistance. But their problem did not stop there. What's troubling them nowadays is how to cope with the situation and how to start a new life. Many of them have no more homes because these were totally damaged.
Most of the structures where traditionally they could have temporarily sought refuge, like churches and barangay and town halls, were also damaged. So where will they go?
It is already one week since the strong tremor hit Bohol but until now no one has started to construct new houses in heavily devastated areas.
Some of the victims are still living in tents mounted by various local government units in their town plazas. Some are setting up makeshift structures near their collapsed houses. Others are temporarily seeking shelter under the trees. Just imagine their situation and your heart will bleed for them.
The question is, for how long will they stay in that kind of situation? Will the government extend financial assistance to them so they can rehabilitate old houses or build new ones? I doubt it. Government financial institutions and pension agencies like Pag-ibig, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) may extend loans to its members who were victims of the calamities. But the amount is limited.
They cannot also live forever under government subsidy. Assistance coming from the government and the private sector are just temporary. The victims have to look for other means to sustain their needs. And that would mean looking for their own resources.
Maybe some of them can easily recover depending on their financial capability and through the help of their relatives who are financially capable. Actually, coping with calamity is all about money. This is not to mention the psychological side of it based on the traumatic experience.
But what about those who don't have the financial capability? How will they cope with the situation? Coping is about recovery, about making it through difficult times or going over obstacles. Implicit in coping is the notion of survival, of being able to continue and live a normal life.
What about the damage on government infrastructure? As of this writing, the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), has not come up yet with an estimate on the total cost of damage the earthquake wrought on government projects. But I believe it could run to tens of billions in pesos.
Does our government have enough funds to rehabilitate Bohol? Municipal halls, school buildings, roads and bridges were destroyed. Can these devastated government infrastructures be fixed soon?
Look at what the Senate doing. While they received millions of pesos from commissions, kickbacks and SOP from their pork barrel, they only allocated P6 million for Bohol earthquake victims. Pagkawala gyud nilay kasing-kasing ug balati-an.
Eye specialist Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, who is also a running enthusiast, is organizing a marathon this coming Sunday for the earthquake victims in Bohol. Dr. Yong said that the proceeds of this run will be donated to GMA Kapuso Foundation for Bohol's relief assistance.
Those who are interested may visit his clinic at Cebu Doctor's Hospital. The registration is very minimal. Let's support this noble project.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 23, 2013.