24 October 2009

Less Talk Needed

Bokawkan Landslide
"Be strong. Remember that everything has a happy ending and endings don't mean 'Stop!' It's just a way of telling us that there is a new beginning ahead of us. You should always be ready for the unpredictable and expect the unexpected."

- taken from the Journal of Ruthie Fae Valdez, 12, one of those who perished in Benguet when Storm Pepeng made a third landfall on 8 October 2009.
For anyone familiar with the country's history, these are encouraging words that could help the remaining survivors from the devastation brought about by Tropical Storms 'Ondoy' and 'Pepeng' to work and strive hard despite the meager and slow assistance from the present administration.

With the two storms clearly out of the country's area of responsibility the question facing the Filipino people is what difference did the Government make in their lives after they spent hundreds of billions of the taxpayer's money to fund their foreign trips abroad and lavish dinners in posh restaurants, including substantial allowance for lawmaker's spouses when they visited U.S. President Barrack Obama last August this year. The concern is real: the recovery and assistance has been hampered by endless meetings in the boardroom of the National Disaster Coordination Council (NDCC) and indirectly affected by unwarranted spending for ads in the national dailies warning of diseases and highlighting safety precautions with the faces of public officials in the background. For the man in the street, the perception is who gives a damn about those ads as long as their families are fed and they get the value for the taxes they paid.

Reports from several evacuation centers and in the disaster areas itself revealed that many of the country's public officials are not making any genuine progress in the relief efforts except to announce what they did when strategy struck, the amount of funds they require to continue their worthless work and to ask all to sacrifice a bit while these officials live in the comfort of their air-conditioned bedrooms.

Was it not about a week ago when the Defense chief and administration's Presidential bet, Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, announce that the government will force minors to evacuate from critical areas? Why was this not implemented when everyone knows that Typhoon Pepeng is still hovering in the northern part of the country? This could prove that some officials are trying to talk their way towards a national post in 2010, but they seldom ever see themselves telling the truth.

Far from admitting their incompetence in handling national disasters and lack of funds because they were siphoned off to fund their hobbies, several elected officials are appearing in government-sponsored shows appealing for more international cooperation and assistance on impassable areas. Well, I suppose from the practical standpoint of these officials, another advantage of asking for international help is that unremarkable audit of their funds will not anymore be the centerpiece of media's attention.