The scenes that were flashed on our TV screens looked so familiar. Families on their rooftops were begging for help. People held on to ropes while being rescued. Evacuees were packed like sardines in classrooms. Local government officials were appealing for donations. Haven’t we seen these scenes before? They looked like old movie re-runs or a TV series with the same plot. They make us want to cry. We suffer from a mixture of pity, sorrow and frustration on why we allow ourselves to go through these harrowing experiences which seem to repeat themselves every time there is a calamity . Why is it that we never seem to learn from our problems? The causes of flooding are well known. Our government officials attribute the problem to denuded forests, illegal mining, siltation of rivers, mounting garbage, refusal of residents to leave their homes, among others. These problems are not insurmountable and the solutions are well in government’s hands. A national land use plan has been in the agenda of Congress for years. The regulation of mining operations is a power and responsibility of government. The cutting of trees is unlawful. And the budget of DPWH can be so tailored to finance projects to minimize the hazards of flooding. We are indeed a government of knowledge and plans with very little action.
It is to our misfortune that policies and programs work on the contrary . There are more and more reclamation projects that may worsen the flooding problem. The residents of my town Obando have constantly protested against the DENR approval of the conversion of our fishponds into a landfill. We have obtained a Writ of Amparo but the Issuance of a TRO was left to the Court of Appeals which it denied. I also worry that we have been kept in the dark as to the effects of the planned airport in Bulacan on our lives.
Last Saturday, we listened to a group of young economists discuss the priorities that are set in the 2021 budget . The bulk of DPWH projects, P234.0 billion, is intended for “local programs” such as multi-purpose buildings. I suspect that patronage and politics will rule in the allocation of these projects. The allocation of P590 billion for the military and police is almost 6 times bigger than the appropriation of P100.6 billion for flood control.
Our answer to all these inefficiencies and distorted priorities is “resilience”. Our people are expected to bear the sufferings with acceptance and patience. Our sense of fatalism contributes to this forbearance. And of course, many of us are victims of demagogues.
Out of frustration, one netizen remarked “Nakakapagod na maging Resilient”. He is correct. It is tiring to live with the same problems for many years when the solutions are within our reach.
“Ang hirap talagang mabuhay sa Pilipinas.” How can we have so much and so little? It makes me want to cry. Sad movies make me cry.