Act of God and costs to man

Ej Lopez

Ej Lopez

Series of events that has transpired lately has again put the nation on the spotlight of events that has proven to be more tragic, despite the spate of economic goodies and reviews coming from foreign business experts. It is quite tragic both as a citizen of this country and as a nation that natural calamities of devastating nature could come our way at a time when the country is slowly coming on its own way as an economic contender in this very competitive world. Just as the nation is holding its ground as one of the stronger economies, at least in the Southeast Asian region, now come these natural calamities, out to spoil what we have painstakingly worked for; that is economic stability. The nation has once again shown its vulnerability when such calamities occur. It seems natural for the national leadership to provide temporary relief up to a certain point, but a more long term address to what really is the need of the victims have been overlooked.

Our “band-aid” mentality of addressing the problem has only provided the people a reason on why they should merely wait for temporary “grace” to come their way. After everything else has settled down, they are to return to where they previously belong; mired in poverty.

These natural calamities of great proportions (but sometimes man induced), have great repercussions in our drive for economic stability.

Famous historical landmarks that were knocked down by that “huge tremor” that rocked the Visayas region will have big effect in our tourism industry. These national treasures, particularly centuries old churches which are historical landmarks, have been the natural attractions for foreign visitors. The tourism opportunities and income for the region that will be mislaid is significant. The infrastructure devastation caused by the tragedy will be a big factor in business and investment in the region considering, that Bohol and Cebu have long been a melting pot for local and foreign investment. The devastation to Cebu more particularly, with gross domestic product growth that is higher than the national GDP is definitely significant to local as well as the national economy. Investors who contemplate on putting their chips in that part of the Visayas will now think twice as a result of this unyielding tragedy. Opportunities lost are immense both to the economy and the local inhabitants, who like us are vulnerable to this “Act of God.”

What do all these calamities tell us? Do we submit ourselves to that age-old adage, that it is our “karma” as a nation for all that we have done? Or succumb to that Biblical disclosure that the world is nearing its end as enunciated in the divine revelations? In situations like these, many of us cannot avoid being spiritual, for after all these also remind us that there is an almighty being that governs us, that cannot be corrupted by earthly possessions, that will not compromise its judgment to any kind of red tape and graft practices.

Justifying the unjustified
The recent pronouncement of the political leadership that the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) is here to stay brings to fore what has been a more ticklish issue than the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The infamous PDAF, or better known as the pork barrel, was the subject of hate campaign of many people and brought out what could have been dubbed as the mother of all scams. Yet this pork barrel has legal basis in its existence. In all fairness, there were many instances, particularly in the remote areas as well as some urban centers, that the benefit of PDAF has redounded to the improved infrastructure facilities mainly in the development of roads and bridges, as well as educational facilities by way of scholarship grants. Except for some who took advantage of the pork barrel and treated it as their own and disbursed it for their own selfish benefit, it is fair to say that the pork barrel is an instrument for social services delivery and development. Therefore, logic dictates that the existence of PDAF is lawful and constitutional; what are unlawful and unconstitutional are the way and the objective of its disbursement, including its beneficiaries.

But how about the DAP?

Is the law explicit on this? In the first place, this was never revealed until it was exposed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. It is therefore incumbent that the President (before and now) wields tremendous power when it comes to budgetary decisions. The President can afford not to be transparent, hiding under the cloak of emergency power and presidential prerogatives. Like the pork barrel prior to its being disgraced, President Benigno Aquino 3rd was adamant in defending its existence, until he finally yields to pressure when people are relentless in its campaign against it.

And now here comes the DAP which is “less legal” in its existence compared to the pork barrel. Yet, the political leadership justifies its existence despite the law not being explicit about it. Had this same kind of system been implemented by less mortal agencies, it would have been charged with “technical malversation”; but not under the Philippine brand of political leadership.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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