‘Maab­tan og siyam-siyam’

Sun.Star Cebu - - OPINION -

There should be a num­ber of com­pelling rea­sons why the Na­tional Hous­ing au­thor­ity (NHA) could only com­plete 8 per­cent of the 22,423 houses it was tasked to build for the vic­tims of su­per­ty­phoon Yolanda in north­ern Cebu. But that does not mean the sup­posed ben­e­fi­cia­ries should no longer com­plain. Mean­while, those com­pelling rea­sons should be con­sid­ered if we look for ways to speed up the work.

But first, note that Yolanda, which dev­as­tated Ta­cloban City in Leyte and some other areas in Eastern Visayas and Cen­tral Visayas, was used to ad­vance the po­lit­i­cal ca­reers of politi­cians in both the lo­cal and na­tional lev­els dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions. The lack of sin­cer­ity is surely one of the rea­sons for the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ings on the mat­ter.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of then pres­i­dent Noynoy Aquino, and the can­di­dacy of his anointed, Mar Roxas, partly fell on two pop­u­lar is­sues used by the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion in 2016: post-Yolanda gov­ern­ment ef­forts and the mis­han­dling of the Spe­cial Ac­tion Force (SAF) op­er­a­tion in Ma­mas­apano, Maguin­danao that re­sulted to the death of 44 SAF per­son­nel (the so-called “SAF 44”).

Of the two is­sues, the Yolanda dev­as­ta­tion was the one that re­quired more at­ten­tion from the new gov­ern­ment con­sid­er­ing the re­sources and the de­ter­mi­na­tion re­quired to fol­low through the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion process. But by the time the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Duterte took over, the fo­cus was al­ready on other is­sues like the war against il­le­gal drug traders.

The at­ti­tude ac­tu­ally trick­led down to the low­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment. Lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in badly af­fected areas ap­par­ently were al­ready look­ing the other way since 2016. Be­cause if they weren’t, they would have ex­erted the needed pres­sure on the con­cerned gov­ern­ment agen­cies in charge of the post-Yolanda re­hab, like the NHA, to com­plete the con­struc­tion of the houses.

There is some­thing in our politi­cians’ style of gov­er­nance and our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment that fa­vors the short-term over the long-term. Our lead­ers place their think­ing within the con­fines of their terms of of­fice and rarely tran­scends them. And lead­ers that suc­ceed them are con­cerned only with their own is­sues and don’t have in­ter­est in com­plet­ing what­ever their pre­de­ces­sors started.

Be­cause of this, it does seem likely that the con­struc­tion of the houses for Yolanda vic­tims would end up like what is de­scribed in this col­or­ful Ce­buano phrase: “maab­tan og siyam-siyam.”

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