.
Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Riot over relief goods by hungry folks from Compostela Valley and Davao area erupts due to slow delivery by DSWD. Sabi ni Dinky kailan pa raw pumila at magpalista ang mga gutom, at binigyan pa ng deadline na March 19. P-Noy sounds too arrogant and over-bearing about Sultan’s posture on Sabah. To Fr. Eliseo Mercado he’s too pro-Malaysian.




Last Christmas Season the St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Fort Bonifacio conducted a fund-raising project by selling Christmas balls at P50 and P100 a piece, which the buyers would attach to a big wire Christmas tree inside the church.  Originally the objective of the fund-raising was to help soldiers’ families, but when typhoon Pablo severely devastated Compostela Valley, the parish deemed its victims needier of help.

The parish was able to raise close to P300, 000 and immediately after Christmas post chaplain Fr. Dionisio L. Acaso and two parishioners travelled to New Bataan in Compostela Valley, to hand over the donated funds to several groups and institutions there.   

XXX

On his return, the post chaplain gave his parishioners a public accounting of where the funds went. At the end of his talk he said something so meaningful:  after seeing the terrible desperation and hunger of the people in New Bataan, he feared that if their needs were not addressed, violence and lawlessness could erupt there.  

Last Monday nangyari na nga ang kinatatakutan ng Fort Bonifacio post chaplain. An estimated 3,000 survivors of “Pablo” from Compostela Valley and the Davao areas stormed the regional office of the DSWD in Davao City and looted 52 sacks of rice, 593 boxes of noodles, 34 boxes of sardines and other relief goods store there. Afterwards the hungry looters camped outside to demand the release of the 10,000 sacks of rice DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman had promised them during a roadblock confrontation in Montevista last Jan. 15.

XXX

News accounts said the raid at the DSWD regional offices turned ugly as a scuffle ensued between citizens brandishing bamboo poles vs. truncheon-wielding police accompanied by heavily-armed SWAT teams that arrived at the scene. It quickly deteriorated into a riot. 


Reading about what happened at the DSWD regional office, I was instantly reminded of the riotings prior to the French Revolution, and Dinky Soliman’s callous indifference was also reminiscent of the unlamented French Queen’s insensitivity.

Turning angry over the rioting and looting, Soliman demanded, “If (the people) are hungry, they must include their names on the list in our regional office, and we will go to their houses to deliver the relief items.”  But she should realize that it has been months since Pablo struck, and government help has been too slow and too little to alleviate the people’s plight. 

Obviously now they’re too angry or too weakened to line up for the endless lista---there's a limit to what a suffering people can take. Right now the victims of typhoon Pablo need food and medicines, repair of their destroyed homes and other critical items for their families. They're asking where the P10 billion P-Noy had promised went or the P18 billion in international and local relief funds raised for the Pablo victims went.

XXX

Interestingly, this same indifference characterizes the PCSO headed by another P-Noy favorite, Margie Juico. Lately the PCSO was denounced by  COA for showering its employees with “excessive,” “irregular” and unauthorized allowances and perks worth P302.8 million. Juico’s retort to COA was that the funds were authorized by the board to pay for the employees “taxes” that the previous Aquino board had allegedly left unpaid, and “other benefits” such as supermarket groceries, etc.  

COA has disallowed benefits to PCSO employees drawn from PCSO's Charity Fund, as this fund is intended strictly for MEDICAL NEEDS of the public.

In other words, it was once again the attitude of “kami muna, bago ang mahihirap.”  PCSO insiders, however, attest that the lines of the poor begging for their medical needs have grown longer and longer in the P-Noy administration. This is not hard to understand, for the current board appears more concerned about fattening its members' and employees' pockets first (to keep them contented and less loquacious about anomalies there?), than  caring for the medical needs of the growing number of poor in this country.

XXX

Fr. Eliseo Mercado
In his recent FB account, Fr. Eliseo Mercado of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance in the Notre Dame University in Cotabato, a keen observer of and participant in the Mindanao situation for many years, raised a most interesting question on the Sabah issue. Said he:  “After the President’s press statement on the Sabah issue, I continue to be deluged with the question, ‘Who is the adviser of the President on the Sabah issue.’ ”


Mercado’s answer is, “Ambot…baka ang Malaysian PM. From the tone and content it would show that (the adviser)  is either Malaysian or Malaysian-Philippine.”

Attesting that for the Kiram family over the centuries “definitely, Sabah is an internal affair,” he notes that no one including Malaysia denies that the Kirams constitute the Royal House of North Borneo; in fact, prior to the creation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1962, “representatives of the Royal House of Sulu and North Borneo would visit Sabah, specifically Sandakan, to receive the 21-gun salutes for the sovereign of North Borneo.”
XXX

Fr. Mercado now finds it ironic that the Rajah Muda and the Sultan's Royal entourage are declared 'Halaw," i.e., “illegals in their own 'backyard.' ”  But it would “really look funny” and the height of _____, he asserts, “if the Philippine President and Government would take the side of Malaysia on the issue of Sabah, and the Philippine Government would be an instrument in calling the members of the Royal House and their entourage HALAW. Tsk tsk tsk!”


Thundering that “Ignorance on the issue is inexcusable... but a policy based on Malaysian interest is almost bordering on TREASON,...” Fr. Mercado opines that “The Sabah issue is NOT a done deal yet between the Philippine Government and Malaysia... but neither is it resolved by simply closing one's eyes to stark reality.” He asserts that the regular deportation of the HALAW from Sabah continues, and while DSWD helps in the transit of the Halaw... the bigger picture as to why they are HALAWs is never looked at.” This, he said, is a “a tragedy for the DFA and Government as a whole.”

XXX

Frankly I'm one of the many people shocked by the arrogant tenor of President Aquino’s threat to Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III to apply the full force of the laws of the Philippine state against him, if he refuses to call off his followers’ stake-out in that small sea-side village in Sabah. Aquino warned that an investigation into possible violations of those laws by the Sultan and his followers and collaborators could ensue if they refuse to heed government’s order to get out of Sabah---seconded by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

I can understand where P-Noy’s  threat to apply the full force of the law may be coming from, in the case of the Sultan’s intransigence---as civilized nations settle disputes through negotiations and international courts. But what puzzles me as well as many other citizens is P-Noy’s terming the Sultan’s move to claim Sabah from the Malaysians a “hopeless cause” and a “mistaken belief” that “dictates your course of action” when P-Noy admitted, in the first place, that “This issue is complex” and needs further study.  And as De Lima stresses,  the government still does not have all the facts in and at this point it truly doesn’t know how to think about the Sultan’s sudden move to land his armed force in Sabah.

But already P-Noy is calling it a "hopeless cause." Such pronouncement is bound to affect the standing of the Sultan's claim to Sabah, should the government raise it in an international court or at the UN. 

XXX

I agree with Fr. Mercado’s observation that P-Noy sounds too pro-Malaysia and terribly anti-Sultan in this episode. This doubtless is due to that fact that he is afraid that Malaysia would abandon or even torpedo the Framework Agreement with the Bangsamoro that it had brokered---if the Sabah stand-off worsens.  

Apparently P-Noy is now so enamored with making history with this landmark Agreement, whose details are now being ironed out by both sides, that he won’t brook any possibility that it could end up in the dustbin of history---all because a dialysis-undergoing, diabetic 74-year old ruler suddenly thought of reclaiming his clan’s right to a small territory 18 miles from Sulu but currently occupied by Malaysians.

But as Kiram riposted to P-Noy, citing the paltry sum that Malaysia pays the sultanate yearly for occupation of Sabah, “What more proof do you want us to show that (it) is ours?”




For comments/reactions, please email:

No comments:

Post a Comment