The likes of Typhoon Odette (Rai) invariably wreak havoc on the already devastated lives of the poor who comprise the majority of the population. It is bitterly ironic that those who are least capable of recovering on their own are the most crippled by natural calamities.

Thus, the ultimate and most critical challenge Typhoon Odette has hurled is the task of substantively reducing the incidence of poverty in the country. This is really the same challenge as the effective commitment to the national mission of making the majority self-sufficient in reaching their full potential and resilient in the face of adverse conditions such as a natural calamity.

Since inequality, that makes poor of the majority, is a function of the prevailing economic system, it follows that the challenge is at bottom how to come up with a system that produces and distributes a nation’s economic resources fairly and equitably to all its citizens or one that accrues the greater good to the bigger number unlike the current one that exclusively benefits the owners of big business and of big landholdings.

A fair and equitable economic system, however, is possible only if the marginalized or disadvantaged sectors of a nation have effective participation in the setting of directions of government programs. Unfortunately the party system is non-existent in this country where only factions of one party of the conservative upper class take turns promoting the interests of their class. Until, therefore, the marginalized sectors unite under one party and their voice is heeded in government, the controlling conservative political parties will always load the dice in their favor.

The socio-economic system must also be fair and equitable to nature. The old system (of exploiting nature’s resources in utter disregard of nature’s need to recover) must go. Extreme weather conditions are nature’s way of re-establishing the ecological balance that it is losing fast to humankind’s unmitigated exploitation to the point of destroying nature’s ability to renew itself.

Unfortunately for this country, current events do not indicate changes even in the far future of our economic and political systems and of those systems’ exploitative ways of dealing with Mother Nature. All winnable candidates in the coming elections belong to the upper class, the exclusive beneficiary of prevailing systems that, therefore, is for the maintenance of the status quo on those unfair systems.

Maintenance of the system that enriches a few necessitates the continued exploitation of nature’s resources without limit, thus causing the extreme weather conditions that devastate the lives of the majority who are poor.

Ultimately, therefore, the challenge of the Philippines and of the world is to set up fair or equitable and green or nature-friendly social systems.