Lack of workable distribution system-A A +A
Thursday, October 24, 2013
LOST in all the talks about the earthquake is the fact that the holding of the barangay elections is only four days away. I mean, four days away as far as Cebu and the rest of the country is concerned, except for quake-devastated Bohol. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has postponed the barangay polls there to a still to be specified date.
In fact, the elections are partly to blame for all the talk about politicking in the distribution of aid to quake victims in Bohol.
With the failure of the government to put in place a workable system of aid distribution, incumbent barangay officials and their allies at the municipal level are given the opportunity to politicize the apportioning of relief goods. And even if they have not been selective in the distribution, their rivals raise suspicions to put them down.
Another part of the blame could be heaped on President Noynoy Aquino and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas for being themselves models of politicking in the midst of the tragedy. PNoy and Roxas gravitated towards Liberal Party (LP) allies during their earlier visit to quake-affected areas of Bohol and Cebu.
In a way, their actions were even more condemnable because they were obviously preparing for an election that will be held in 2016 yet. I am referring to the presidential polls wherein Roxas is expected to run for president. Barangay officials and their political rivals, on the other hand, are actually in the midst of an election set this year.
That is why I find Roxas’s reaction to allegations of politicking in the distribution of aid in Bohol rather amusing. He may be well-intentioned in ordering a stop to the practice but his actions will always look hypocritical considering his own penchant for politicking.
I won’t join the others who are immediately lambasting Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco following his reported spat with Philippine Red Cross (PRC) volunteers on the distribution of aid to victims of last week’s magnitude 7.2 earthquake. It would be unfair to Evasco and even the PRC volunteers if we comment without gathering more information.
First off, I do think a workable system in the distribution of relief goods should first be put in place if we want to minimize cases of politicians using the process to advance political goals. If giving the aid to local government officials for them to do the distribution can be problematic, giving free rein to outsiders can be chaotic.
We have already talked at length about politicians tending to be selective in the distribution process or local officials hoarding the relief goods for their own selfish ends. But what about other entities doing the distribution themselves?
The problem with outsiders doing the distribution is their lack of familiarity with the terrain and the people in Bohol. The province is not like Cebu which is composed of coastal towns and cities. Bohol has towns in the interior that outsiders may not bother to penetrate. That could result in unequal distribution of limited supply of relief goods.
Towns themselves have their own hinterland areas that also need to be penetrated by those bringing in aid. Without a clear system of distribution, this could result in a lowland-centered relief operation.
I think that if Evasco was really honest in his intention, then the fault could be in the failure of PRC volunteers to coordinate with him for a more rational distribution
What I am saying is that the more urgent need now is to rationalize the distribution
of aid by putting in place a workable system that would put order into the effort and end the politicking.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2013.