Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Guilty Bystanders

ILLEGAL DRUGS are a disaster. Conflagration, typhoon, earthquakes and name it pales in comparison. When they strike a community the damage is irreversible. Heinous crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery are immediate consequences. Everybody knows it. Everybody talks about it albeit in whispers. The police know it. The mayor. Even the parish priest. We prefer to set back and watch the world go by while precious lives are felled dramatically faster than the cutting of almaciga trees in the vanishing forests of Samar. Emperor Nero watched his burning of Rome with contentment in much the same fashion as the guilty bystanders that we are.


While the controversy about the PPA (Power Purchase Adjustment) is raging in Manila, the Department of Energy reports that inclusive of the period September 2001 to March 2002 a total of 58 barangays have been energized in the whole island of Samar: Northern Samar, 17; Western Samar, 23; and Eastern Samar 18. This is in response to President Arroyo’s SONA Commitment of energizing 1,500 barangays nationwide from June 2001 up to July 2002. Make no doubt about it, barangay electrification, a basic development ingredient, enhances the quality of life of Filipinos, especially those in the rural areas because it would increase their opportunities to engage in livelihood and income-generating activities. But of course the energy services in Samar should be adequate, sustainable and affordable. Otherwise, what are we talking about?
The eradication of poverty is still the loudest agenda in well-budgeted seminars, conferences and political campaigns. It barely trickles, however, into concrete implementation. But seriously, this agenda should be developed and implemented through an integrated and coherent multi-sectoral approach where the country’s stakeholders in development—the government, multilateral institutions, civil society organizations and the private sectors—should work collaboratively. The worsening politics in Samar keeps dividing people like an atom, and pushes back collaboration like an unreachable star.
The other night, I was surfing the Internet when I stumbled on the site of U.S.A.-SAMAR (Phils.) Educational & Cultural Foundation (USSECF). It refers to itself as a non-profit, public supported, charitable and educational institution. Since its foundation in 1997 up to the present, this foundation has already given out medical supplies and various humanitarian goods, cultural exchange programs and academic scholarships from about 42 municipalities, government agencies, private organizations and individuals in three provinces of Samar. Mr. Leonardo Oben is President and Founder. We have so many SamareƱos residing abroad. I am sure there are more groups abroad helping our poor people of Samar. I wish they will use this paper to propagate their humanitarian programs.


In preparation for the 4th World Meeting of Families that will be held in Manila on January 20-27, 2003, the three dioceses in Samar are conducting seminars on family and life. Kindly check with your parish priest or the Director of the Diocesan Commission on Family and Life. There may be one near you.

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