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By Jun Ledesma
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
IT HAS been three months since Typhoon Pablo devastated a wide mass of forest and agricultural lands and marine resources. That storm was the strongest recorded in the world in recent centuries. The emergency responses and necessary restoration efforts to make life bearable are still in place. The militants will always be there in good times and in bad and so are the non-government organizations who are making hay on the misery of others.
The rehabilitation program will take much longer time. By this time, the victims of Pablo must be told, if they have not realized it yet, that the assistance given to them by the government and other international aid agencies will not be there for all eternity.
Other victims of man-made and natural calamities will be needing help too. In this uncertain time the donor today might be the victim tomorrow. Our neighbor Indonesia for example sent their navy vessels to deliver thousands of bags of rice for victims in Davao Oriental.
Hardly had they set sail back to their base, a number of villages in Indonesia were ravaged by floods evicting many victims from their places of abode and livelihood. Such is the ironies of our existence in this planet. But then life has to move on and we just have "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes".
We are a resilient people. Those who dwell in the hinterlands opted to do so because they want it there. They love the smell of the earth and the saltiness of the seas. If typhoon Pablo hit the urban centers I am sure that the mountain dwellers would have been frightened by the devastation that the killer storm could have caused. And we the urban dwellers must be queuing for food and water, scouring the rubbles for precious belongings, searching for the missing beloved and mourning our dead.
Help will certainly come. Because there are more people in the city there will be more pandemonium. Riots will be uncontainable before it can be contained. And because life has to go on there will be no cross too heavy which we cannot carry. There will always be a way out of our miseries but not in the way Barug and Akbayan militants want.
Whoever we are, urban or mountain dwellers, fishermen or farmer, rich or poor, we have to pick up the pieces and rebuild our new homes and livelihood from the rubbles that the calamity had let us.
Let me bring us to the condition obtaining in Davao Oriental and Comval. I am certain that the farmers in those parts have started to plant short gestating crops. So that they will not remain destitute and dependent on government, domestic and foreign aids forever, they should graduate from being backyard vegetable growers or marginal slash-and-burn rice and corn farmers.
Government should rush and improve infrastructure projects. It should exercise persuasive power to direct airline and shipping companies to provide ample space for the farmers produce to be brought to Cebu and Manila where the vast population of consumers are. Through the years both government and private enterprises are complaining about the unconscionable cost of transport between Mindanao and Manila but through all these years of griping and protestations nothing has been done to address this need and opportunities.
The last time that something sensible was thought of to jumpstart the program of bringing the produce of Mindanao to Metro Manila was when the Marcos administration established the so-called Food Terminal Market. There was one in Davao and the main FT was in Taguig I think. They were supposed to set up a cool-storage-chain. But People Power caught up midway...Of course in the melee of "pasiklaban" anything that was good and evil of the Marcos regime has to go.
It is about time that the government should shift its support to the victims of natural and man-made calamities in Mindanao from relief to putting in the matrix of infrastructures and marketing strategies to rev up the economy that will start to emerge from the ruins of Typhoon Pablo. Governors Cora Malanyaon and Arthur Uy can only do so much.
In fact to their credit they have done so much but the Herculean task needs national government intervention.
Relief assistance is palliative. It cannot go on forever otherwise the militants like Barug Mindanao will have reason to prod people to ransack, and me to join them someday.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 13, 2013.