The Disconnect

I have been following the developments in Cagayan de Oro closely after I left for work at the end of the Holiday season. And aside from the relief operations and rehabilitation work which have been rigorous in the aftermath of Typhoon Washi’s destruction, Kagay-anons are also up in arms against the local chief executive – who is blamed for not doing what he could have done to have saved more lives and minimized the damage to the city.

Already the battleground is cyberspace, where contending parties have created their own groups and slogans to attract more and more Kagay-anons online. On the one hand, you have groups like Mata Na (Awake) CDO, Save CDO Now, and Bangon (Arise) Kagay-an leading the crusade against Mayor Vicente Yap Emano. All in all, these groups have 10,000-12,000 members who also go beyond cyberspace and around the city to collect signatures in calling for a recall of the city mayor. As of the last count, these groups have gathered around 25,000 signatures, just 20,000 shy of making their petition satisfy the requirements set by law.

While these groups busy themselves online and out in the streets, there are also other groups which either disuade Kagay-anons from supporting the recall petition or verbally attack those who are active in the Anti-Emano discussion groups. Several fake Facebook accounts have been identified and reported after the persons behind these “personalities” were checked and found to be fictitious.

Pro-Emano groups have also resorted to using media organizations which have been known to favor the local chief executive. The reporters of one radio station are alleged to have been going around the city and asking people: “Recall or relief goods?” Of course, if your belongings have been washed away by the flood, you are bound to opt for the later than the former despite your anger against the local government for their ineptitude and lack of direction before, during and after the typhoon.

Just a few weeks ago, former Senator Ernesto Maceda also joined the fray by casting aspersions on the relief efforts conducted by national agencies and international humanitarian groups in Cagayan de Oro. Oddly though, the former legislator inserted some form of endorsement of a hotel which is owned by businessmen closely identified with the city mayor. He was probably billeted there during his stay in the city.

And then yesterday, Senator Chiz Escudero did not mince words when he criticized the groups behind the petition for recall of his political ally. In a story published in a local paper, the Senator said “Isang taon na man lang at puwede na hong palitan ulit ang mga opisyales dito kung yan ang gusto nyo (Just a year more and you can change your city officials here if that’s what you want).”

True enough, the elections are just around the corner and by May 2013, Kagay-anons can decide on Emano’s fate. Then again, I guess the good senator is not familiar with the flooding season in Cagayan de Oro.

Since 2008, massive flooding in the city has occured every last quarter of the year or first quarter of the following year. The first massive flood which struck several parts of the city after several decades struck on December 2008. It was followed by a massive flood in January 2009. The pattern stuck, so much so that my family would also keep themselves ready during these months of probability. I doubt though if Escudero knows that. Because if he does, he would have thought of the possibility of the city being struck by massive floods again by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2013. God forbid, if such floods happen and result to hundreds of dead Kagay-anons again and over a thousand missing, what would the good senator from Manila (or Sorsogon?) tell the people?

And this is where the disconnect lies.

In the days immediately after Washi struck Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and several other parts of the country, various groups in Manila have been trying to use the situation as an attack against the Aquino administration, the national government agencies and several political personalities in the Capital.

Probably that’s how things work in the Capital, where people are accustomed in demanding that President Aquino himself address their woes. And where some groups seem to pray for disasters, scandals and oddities to happen, just so they could use it to to demand something from the national government. Oddly though some of the issues and concerns forwarded to Malacanang’s door step are actually duties unperformed by the various mayors of the Metropolitan. By this convoluted view, the President of the Republic has been reduced as the Mayor of Metro Manila.

But we Kagay-anons couldn’t care less. What we want is accountability from our own local government. What we want is that they acknowledge what they could have done, what they failed to do and what they must do should a similar weather condition approach the city again. And where they are answerable to provisions of law for having failed to perform their duty to the people, then they should face the penalty provided.

We should make our local officials responsible to the people who placed them in their positions. If we do not make our local executives answerable to the people, why then do we have to elect a mayor, vice mayor, and all these councilors? If these local executives just pass the buck to Manila on everything that happens in their cities or municipalities, why don’t we just abolish these units altogether and just elect a Mayor of the Philippines?

Oh, I forgot, we actually already have one in Malacanang…

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2 thoughts on “The Disconnect

  1. Kay

    “Recall or relief goods?”

    If I were to answer that question, I’d say recall. Why? Recall is a LONG-term solution. Relief goods is a SHORT-term solution, AND it shows that you’re ransoming the supplies for people’s votes.

    What would happen once the relief goods run out? It can only last one family at least a month with proper management. You’re gonna continue giving them the same thing? What about…. say… new homes? Or healthcare benefits? Or, for the children, schools? Nothing? Just relief goods?

    The reason why people continously vote for Emano is, IMO, they hate progress, order and better living. The uneducated poor feel that their sh*tty lives are “God’s gift” and they don’t want to give it away, and they view Emano as their savior. The common criminals and hard-headed people view Emano as a protector from the law (remember when illegal vendors begged for Emano to allow them to enter a hospital freely? Remember when Emano said that he allows them to roam the streets and harass people because he thinks they’re “earning an honest living”?).

    Again, this is just my opinion, but this is a result of someone being angry at Emano turning CDO into a massive pile of sh*t with pretty little purple ribbons sprinkled on it.

    Reply
  2. ellobofilipino Post author

    Apologies on the delayed reply. I have been caught up with tons of stuff in my day job (and the other one) that I have absent from blogging for quite some time.

    I don’t want to technical but a recall actually is a time-bound checking process is local governance which, if not pursued, would result to the official in question maintaining his/her hold on power. That aside, I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Much has happened in CDO since it was still a university town in the 1950s. And many of the developments were a result of its political visibility during the Martial Law years as well as in the post Marcos period. But the economic development of the city is the result of the increasing search for markets by big companies which compete for sales in different parts of the country. It is not the result of local officials having a vision for the city nor initiating economic development by providing the necessary public infrastructure or policies.

    The city now is a far cry from that which I was born unto. Back then, CDO was a care-free city with friendly people. Beggars can only be found at the doors of the Cathedral and there were only a few informal settlements. Now it is starting to show signs of problems of urbanization plaguing cities in Metro Manila and Cebu – clogged streets with vendors, beggars everywhere, informal settlements blooming here and there and neglected social services dealing with health, education and obviously disaster preparedness.

    I do hope that Kagay-anons would be more careful in choosing the next local chief executive by May this year. The future and well-being of the city and its people depend on it.

    Reply

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