In the aftermath of the disasters called “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”, government–or rather, the GMA administration– suddenly found its political will. It will rehabilitate; it will reconstruct; it will prepare for future disasters; and it will relocate people in danger zones. It is so eager that it is egging on the swift passage of an unprecedented PhP 1.5 trillion national budget and a PhP 12 billion separate disaster fund. Now there is the wild proposal for a PhP 280 billion “reconstruction” loan. This is on top of existing funds for infrastructure, disaster, and contingencies.
Not to left out any source of disaster funds, the administration has appealed for massive international aid, tapped funds of the SSS and other non-government finance institutions, and is enjoining the private business sector to open up their purses. It is virtually a heyday for gift-asking.
After the delayed, misprioritized, and grossly-inadequate government response to the twin disasters, government has come back with a vengeance. And what a comeback! Grandiose promises of dredging the entire Laguna de Bay and the Marikina-Pasig river system, relocation of entire communities, and all kinds of disaster prevention/mitigation/rehabilitation solutions.
Most of the proposals, aside from their grandioseness (and possibly foolishness), need a lot of money. More accurately, these rationalize the need for more money. And there’s the rub. When politicians become suddenly a humanitarian, an environment-lover, or an engineer, people have to be very wary. When they start preaching for the money, we should start running away and ask the obvious questions.
The first question is: Where did all those disaster/contingency/emergency funds through the years went?
The second question is: Most government agencies are supposed to be primed for services, including those in times of disaster: where are the rubber boats, the emergency food, the Doppler radars, the trained disaster managers, and, not the least, the funds?
The third question is: Why the cry of incumbent politicians for huge funds from virtually everybody–except their own pockets?
The obvious question is: Why, in an election year, the cry for huge funds? Why, in the twilight of one’s stay in power, the eagerness to access mind-boggling amount of money?
The obvious answer is: Not for Ondoy, not for Pepeng.