Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Accountability in Tragedy

On the one hand, devastating Ondoy has heightened the humanity in many Filipinos: people helping other people out in the midst of the crisis, some to the point of supreme sacrifice -- as in the cases of Muelmar Magallanes, Cpl. Venancio Ancheta, Cpl. Adriano Regua, and other army men -- but for most, doing their own small parts in relative anonymity. Indeed, the bayanihan spirit is alive again.

And on the other hand? Well, business as usual, for the vultures and crocodiles.

While we must appreciate bayanihan, perhaps we must step back and ask if the spontaneous community spirit does not itself provide a disincentive for government and politicos to do their jobs. This is not to say "Don't help"; but rather, to call for accountability even as we deal with the tragedy.

"This is not the time for finger-pointing," some people will say; but if not now, then when? When Ondoy is but a distant memory, we will all just shrug off the calls for accountability as politically-motivated.

What happened to all the funds allocated for disaster management? What happened to the plans? Where are the executives? A portion of our taxes are supposed to be allocated for such functions: have they been put to good use? have they been misspent? How come no one is taking responsibility and facing the consequences? (Bayani Fernando has owned up to his faults, but obviously he is not resigning.)

We reward government for its inaction. Tutal: may bayanihan naman, di ba?

If no one is willing to take the blame, there's no shortage of people willing to take credit. Relief distribution efforts become photo opportunities, all the better for upcoming campaign season. Relief goods are repacked and slapped with labels: "Tulong mula kay Manny Villar."

We can't even tell if the last story is true, or mere black propaganda (as the affected camps will be sure to claim.) Again, the lack of accountability even -- especially -- in the frenzy of unverified news reports.

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