Doing it well and better-A A +A
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
IN many instances, flood victims have been castigated for not heeding the warning of local governments to evacuate their areas before the mighty waters cast their communities, destroying their properties and took their loved ones and neighbors away.
They were simply hard headed, local and national officials would say, while telling everyone that all means have been done to prepare and protect the local communities from the disaster. But have they really done more than enough?
At the aftermath of the tragedy, it was the bayanihan spirit of survivors which enabled them to maintain their sanity after losing their homes, built after years of saving up for it only to be washed away in a blink of an eye, or with the devastating feeling of losing neighbors and loved ones. Relief operations could only do so much, and even the best of intentions bear negative results. Later some visiting organizations and individuals would have their picture taken in the areas, with umbrellas and gears that would show everyone that they too, have been there and have done their part.
Suddenly, typhoon affected communities became the favorite area for exposure of international, regional and local organizations, including agencies who wanted to immerse and have an up close experience with the community.
This is probably the same mentality which has prodded local government officials to grandstand and tell everyone that yes, they have provided advisories to the different communities but no, the people choose not to listen. This is where recommendations that forced evacuation should be done next time.
Beyond accepting donations, with clothing stuff left untouched in the barangays in Bataan because the women said they would rather have things that they really need like underwear, napkins, clothing utensils, rice and other food support, the residents would say that information was nil and no one was there to tell them how to prepare. “Abi namo unsa ang signal no 3, abi namo ang kusog kay signal no 1, pero wala may niadto sa amo-a aron ingnan mi nga mubakwit daan ug wala pud nagsulti unsa among buhaton kung naay ingon ani nga mga panghitabo,” Lando, 46, said.
Local and national officials could rant and claim that they have done everything yet it would not take a school grader to understand that the several years of neglect in the Pablo affected communities, and of the patronage for logging and other environmentally destructive activities have taken its toll, with the vulnerable populace being made as sacrificial lambs. Pray tell, after the devastation of Sendong and Pablo, how many of our LGUs have consciously and deliberately reviewed their urban plans and the economic investment track vis-a-vis its impact on public health and on the environment? How many of the national agencies were immediately in the area to respond and assist the people? If not for the visit of some department officials recently, some agencies would not even put up their help desk. How come that the typhoon survivors have to beg for assistance and demand for accountability in the distribution of rice and other food stuffs? How dare individuals and officials who regard the survivors as pigs to be fed with foul smelling food and what about reports that there were those who pocket some of the assistance?
In many ways, the survivors can get back on their feet once again. Not by any mercy of anyone but by collective and well-planned interventions that would not demean their self worth. In many phases, organizations and individuals will come and go, LGU and national officials raring to have the votes can have their mark on these places in whatever way and the unscrupulous can always get away with some things. And always, some people will continue to blabber that local communities refuse to heed warnings while encouraging activities and investments that undermine the environment and put the residents’ lives at risks. We can do better.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 23, 2013.