Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion -

FOUR vans con­tain­ing mil­lions of dol­lars worth of aid for Yolanda vic­tims had to be burned be­cause no­body in the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, not then pres­i­dent Noynoy Aquino, not Mar Roxas, not the Cus­toms Com­mis­sioner, had the soul to cut the bu­reau­cratic red tape that blocked the way of the vans’ most nec­es­sary and ur­gent re­lease.

Just how soul-less was it to ask the donor to com­ply with the re­quired pa­per­work when the in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries were in dire straits? If this was given to a per­son, he/she would have been so over­joyed as to tell the donor “Thank you and don’t sweat the pa­per­work. The least I can do is spare you the trou­ble.”

Un­for­tu­nately, the four vans were not given to a per­son but to a gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy that un­like per­sons but like other en­trenched bu­reau­cra­cies of­ten have their hardly-there soul buried in tons of red tape.

But this is be­yond soul-less, be­yond heart­less. This is crim­i­nal in­sen­si­tiv­ity that cries to heaven for jus­tice. How many sur­vivors died of hunger in evac­u­a­tion cen­ters for lack of food and of ex­po­sure for lack of shel­ter and cloth­ing? How many would have lived if some­body had the soul/heart to or­der: “The hell with rules, peo­ple are dy­ing, re­lease the vans.”

Yet, as out­ra­geous as this bu­reau­cratic faux pas was, it is even more out­ra­geous that we are not out­raged enough to call out those con­cerned for an id­iocy that cost the coun­try so many lives. Where is the out­rage of right­eous me­dia and of de­vout “saints” of the Church? Where’s the “probe” by credit-grab­bers in Congress?

Are we say­ing burn­ing vans of food, cloth­ing and shel­ter ma­te­ri­als for calamity sur­vivors is okay? Are we silently say­ing we are as soul-less as the bu­reau­cracy that al­lowed needed food to rot and fi­nally be burned for lack of the re­quired pa­pers for its re­lease?

Ger­man so­ci­ol­o­gist Max We­ber once ar­gued that bu­reau­cracy is the most ef­fi­cient and ra­tio­nal way of or­ga­niz­ing hu­man ac­tiv­ity to max­i­mize its re­sults. Off­hand this is a sound the­ory be­cause it is sim­ply unimag­in­able how or­ga­ni­za­tions can ac­com­plish their mis­sion with­out divvy­ing up the pre­scribed ac­tiv­i­ties among per­son­nel or­ga­nized for the pur­pose.

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