March 21, 2023

KEEP ABRA RELIEF EFFORTS OUT OF NEGATIVE POLITICS

The ongoing relief and recovery operations in Abra province that was severely hit by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on July 27 and another series of tremors is showing its good and ugly sides, the latter mainly due to politics.

For nearly two weeks now, we witness the outpouring of support for Abra, particularly the provision of food and non-food items from various local government units, institutions, private groups, and international donors to provide immediate relief to the families hard hit by the earthquake.

We laud Malacañang and other agencies for the quick response and for mobilizing their assets and logistics to attend to the needs of the province and its people.

The immediate provision of food and basic necessities and the deployment of personnel and equipment from government agencies to help in the rescue and recovery operations give the assurance that efforts are done not only to attend to the immediate needs of the affected families, but also to help them recover from the impacts of the earthquake.

As has been proven in various instances, the Filipino value of bayanihan, or more popularly known in this highland region as “binnadang,” will always be a source of pride.

Unfortunately, the misfortune that befell a lot of Abrenians is also showing an ugly side.

Along with the quick mobilization to provide aid to Abra are concerns of families not getting help, not because they are not deserving of such, but because some provincial and municipal officials are reportedly not fair in giving assistance to their constituents.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera has acknowledged it received complaints not all affected families are receiving assistance.

Social Welfare and Development Sec. Erwin Tulfo has also earlier urged elected leaders in Abra not to use the relief items for politicking, following reports that some politicians are choosing who to provide assistance to.

We understand that during a calamity, those gravely affected are prioritized in the provision of relief goods. We would like to believe that in the case of Abra, the concerned offices have assessed and validated the areas and families in dire need of assistance. At the very least, we hope for an equitable distribution of relief items so families will be assisted based on their needs and concerns.

We share the call of national government agencies for politicians in Abra to set aside their personal agenda and transcend politics this time and deliver the services their constituents deserve.

With the outpouring of support for Abra, it is hard to fathom there are still families that are not getting any help or being left behind.

Local officials should at least have the decency to acknowledge that the assistance and support from the government, the private sector, and international donors are intended for all affected families, regardless of their political affiliations.

Humanitarian assistance does not come with political agenda; neither does it identify with any political color.