THE Aquino administration has declared as non-negotiable the relocation of some 20,000 non-formal settler families living along metro Manila’s waterways by the end of this year, and of 100,000 others by the end of Mr. Aquino’s term in 2016.
The decision comes in the aftermath of the floods in metro Manila last week which caused schools and offices to shut down in some areas, and caused horrendous traffic jams, for the severity of which the informal settler families living along metro Manila waterways have been blamed. Blaming the families for the severity of the floods, they being the alleged source of the garbage that chokes esteros and river systems, was the Metro Manila Development Authority’s and Department of Public Works’ mantra last week. But that has since become less of an official reason for the planned and ongoing relocations than the claim that it’s for the families’ own safety and welfare.
NEARLY 2,500 people — 2,360 to be exact — died in 2012 in natural disasters in the Philippines, says the non-governmental Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC), putting it ahead of all other countries in the world including China, which was second with 771 deaths.
But because “only” 12 million Filipinos were affected last year by typhoons, landslides, flooding and those other rainy-season disasters Filipino flesh is heir to, while some 43 million were affected in China, the Philippines was only second to that country as far as how many people were displaced, lost their belongings, had their homes damaged, and/or suffered various economic losses because of crops destroyed or jobs lost, among others.
JUNE 12, 1898, the date when, 115 years ago, Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain, was marked this year with the usual speeches, flag-raisings, floral offerings and other rites by officialdom.
The usual vin d’honneur took place in Malacanang, with Benigno Aquino III toasting the “continued partnership” between the Philippines and the countries represented by the foreign dignitaries present so that they may “always endeavor to promote peace, amity and unity for the advancement of humankind.”
BENIGNO AQUINO III has been in triumphalist mode since 2010 when he handily won the Presidential elections. Succeeding events since have not moved him from that state.
The results of the 2013 mid-term elections have given him something more to crow about, and even more so the 7.8 percent growth of the economy for the first quarter of 2013 which surpassed the International Monetary Fund prediction of 6 percent.
Forget about the power problems in Mindanao, and the increase in the incidence of hunger among the poor, whose legions have not changed for decades. Forget about the high levels of unemployment.
DA VINCI Code author Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno, contains what’s only one of many comments, asides, and observations about the Philippines or something Filipino from such sources as tourists, journalists, book authors, and others who’ve either visited the country or read about it.
Inferno’s heroine, British doctor Sienna Brooks, describes Manila as “the gates of hell” for its poverty, interminable traffic jams, pollution, and a sex trade among whose horrors are parents who pimp for their children.
It’s a novel, and neither reportage nor history. But it comes pretty close to truthful journalism. Who’s going to deny, unless it’s Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino, that the traffic jams in his jurisdiction are horrendous enough to try the patience of saints?