IF YOU think the conflict in Zamboanga City has died down. No.
There may no longer be the exchange of gunfire, but the greater conflict now lies in the more than 100,000 displaced, who have lost everything. More than half of this 100,000 were not even poor people. Santa Catalina for one was a thriving middle class community with a lot of home-grown enterprises. That is now all gone.
Worse, the heavy rains have arrived making life in evacuation centers made up of mere tents more miserable than it already was.
The evacuation centers, themselves lack toilet and other sanitary facilities, but the people are making do, not having much choice nor resources to fend for themselves.
By Saturday last week, the tents were no longer able to withstand the heavy pounding rain and the strong winds, flooding the shelters on Cawa-cawa boulevard and the grounds of the Joaquin Enriquez Sports Complex, which is also being used as an evacuation center.
Not counted are the Sama Dilaut who have sought refuge on their boats off the sea but are likewise being battered by waves and heavy rainfall.
Floodwaters reached knee-high while the surrounding grounds are in deep mud, a situation that spells greater misery and a constant reminder of all they have lost.
This wouldn’t have been, there could have been more effort to extend the arm of peace, but no, the decision was to pulverize the enemy, and so the people were pulverized as well.
The rain will always come as it has come. But had the people been comfortable in their homes, no one would have gotten wet and the hundred thousand wouldn’t be threatened with shared diseases.
But the decision was to pulverize the enemy, and along with them, the people.
No, the Zamboanga crisis is not over, never mind if the national news are no longer interested in it. We, as Mindanaons should remain concerned and help should continue to flow.
In a report by the UN Irin, it quoted Philippine National Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang as saying, "Rehabilitation will take a minimum of three months from now - that is the fastest. But actually, it may reach six months to a year before we are able to fully rehabilitate those places and move them [the inhabitants] back."
"This is the devastating reality for the population of Zamboanga. Apart from losing their homes, many have also lost their livelihoods. They will have to rebuild from scratch, and we [aid agencies] will have to prepare to respond for long-term displacement," the report said.
The shooting had just ended and the burnt communities are not even cleared. Normalcy will take a long time. In the meantime, there’s the weather.
The Philippine Red Cross is still accepting donations for Zamboanga:
Account name: Philippine Red Cross
Banco de Oro: Peso Savings Account No.: 00-453-0018647; Dollar Savings Account No.: 10-453-0039482
Metrobank: Peso Savings Account No.: 151-3-04163122-8; Dollar Savings Account No.: 151-2-15100218-2
PNB: Peso Savings Account No.: 3752-8350-0034; Dollar Savings Account No.: 3752-8350-0042
Or through SMS:
Text donations are in denominations of 10, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000 for Smart and 5, 25, 100, 300, 500 or 1000 for Globe.