October 01, 2009
I'm sorry, I have no sympathy for you (Updated)
I JUST got off the phone w/ a Cabinet official who called me about my concern regarding donations by foreign groups of used clothing. Apparently, there is a law preventing such imports because of the growing ukay-ukay business in the country.
To go around this law, Malacañang has instructed that donations of used clothing be consigned to DSWD instead. (Upate 11:34: If the DSWD receives the donations, the payment of import taxes are deferred.) I told this Cabinet official that DSWD is overburdened already feeding people in the evacuation centers that's why it's the private sector which is taking up the slack. Why can't Customs or the Dept of Finance just accredit a few charitable foundations of relief organizations to receive these donations from abroad?
"There is a law," he stressed over and over, and they couldn't just violate it. With all the bright legal minds in Malacañang, consigning the goods to the DSWD was the only solution they could think of? This is an effing emergency situation! But when it comes to flouting the laws, our officials are number one! Especially you know who!
The Cabinet official said there were already concerns that some importers are taking advantage of the situation and "nagpupuslit ng contraband". So prosecute them for heaven's sake! Why penalize the rest who have only a sincere desire to help Ondoy's victims?
Then the Cabinet official sighed that he has not been sleeping for six days since Typhoon Ondoy. I don't know what he expected me to say. Should I have said, "kawawa ka naman" and sympathized w/ his lack of sleep? I was stumped. People have lost their homes, family members, friends, lack food and water, and are getting sick in the evac centers...and I was supposed to pity one Cabinet official who was suffering from sleep deprivation? I felt a lump in my throat. I wanted to scream at him and cry at the same time. How dare he!
In the first place, we wouldn't have this many flood victims if only you, the gov't, did your job! I have tried to contain myself from blowing up since Saturday, seeing how NDCC and its head, Defense Sec. Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro blundered their way through the rescue efforts of the flood victims. But privately, I have been fuming on Facebook about how many lives the government could have saved, if only they were prepared for disasters.
(Gibo talks about disaster preparedness. Ptooey!)
Like FEMA director Michael Brown during the Hurricane Katrina disaster in Sept. 2005, Gibo sent out rescue teams only when Ondoy was on its way out of the country. As early as 1 pm on Sat. Sept 26, residents of Marikina were already hunched on their roofs, waiting to be rescued! Gibo eventually sent in the much-ridiculed 13 rubber boats (mostly from the Phil. Navy) to the flooded areas at 10 pm!
By midnight, Marikina residents were texting DZMM that President Arroyo had arrived "para magpapakitang tao." The victims who were cold, hungry, and missing their families were not fooled by her fake concern. What makes our blood boil is knowing that the presidentita used up P800 million of the contingency/disaster fund for her foreign travels! How many rescue boats could have been bought w/ that money?
Now we realize even more how stupid this government really is! They can't even get their acts together to decide whether or not Malacañang should be an evacuation/relief center. They can't even come up w/ a simple plan or legal document to temporarily lift relief the ban on donated used clothing? Right now, I've received reports of Customs agents seizing ALL shipments of donations at our ports! People abroad are willing to help our flood victims here. And yet all the govt can come up w/ is even more red tape! Anoba?!
Now, in preparation for Typhoon Parma (local codename Pepeng), disaster czar Teodoro wants to forcibly evacuate minors only from low-lying areas. Why minors only? If the situation is that dangerous, then evacuate everyone! Use your powers as NDCC chief and Defense Sec. to order a systematic evacuation of these areas by using your armed forces. Call in the reserved forces as well to help conduct an orderly evacuation, and don't take crap from stubborn residents. Man up Gibo! This is what you should have done last Saturday at the height of Ondoy.
Isn't anyone thinking straight anymore in Malacañang?!?! Oh right, they haven't slept for six days. erg