Editorial: The crisis isn’t over yet

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Saturday, March 8, 2014


LAST Thursday, the Rural Bank of Montevista (Davao del Norte) Inc. (RBM) declared a bank holiday effective immediately. It’s reason, it would want the Philippine Deposit & Insurance Corporation (PDIC) to step in and pay its depositors up to P500,000 as it can no longer continue operations over a year after typhoon Pablo.

According to bank president Felix Maceda, 90% of the bank’s loan portfolio is micro-finance but since after typhoon Pablo hit, their borrowers were continuously failing to pay up their loans “causing serious cash liquidity problems”.

This is but a reminder, among many reminders, that thousands of families are still reeling from the effects of typhoon Pablo that are exacerbated by other weather disturbances, pulling the same families deeper in poverty.

But until now, there is no one taking tabs on how extensive is the suffering, how difficult is the recovery. No one is saying how many students have dropped out.

It’s easy not to see the sufferings because the typhoon-hit towns are agricultural and coastal towns. There is something about the greenery and the blue seas and fresh catch that can make us blind to the sufferings and lull us to complacency, making us believe that life is good.

We have to remember, however, that there were thousands of hectares of farmlands destroyed. All these meant millions of pesos lost and can no longer be recovered. Place yourself in the shoes of a middle-income family with three students, including one in college, losing even just a million worth of investments in agriculture and household expenses – farm equipment, capital for planting and farm inputs, homes. The same family most like do not even have P1-million in savings. No way can they recover that amount as all these were already invested through the years, peso by peso.

Obviously, since they are still there, planting, living, they are eking out a living. But we doubt if they have much to spare – for loan payments or for higher education. Thousands out there are making do with very little, thousands out there are still trying to get back on their feet. Let us not forget that and find some ways to help out beyond just giving relief goods. Let us also clamor for government attention beyond just visits intended to gain popularity while failing to answer why more than half of the Davao Oriental barangays hit by typhoon Pablo still do not have their power supply back.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 08, 2014.

Opinion

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