March 27, 2023

Let’s change the Filipino’s narrative on resiliency. Let us realize that we were always vulnerable to the impacts of typhoons.
This is why we are puzzled why the Duterte administration cut the 2020 calamity fund by P4 million, allocating only P16 billion. In 2017, more than half of funds for calamity was also cut, from P23B to P15.8B.
Surprisingly, the government increased this year’s budget for oppressive and self-ser-ving expenses. For instance, around P9.3B went to confidential and intelligence funds, which could have been used for public welfare and safety.
Safety could have been assured and rescue operations could have been faster in Cagayan Valley if the regional network of a big media company has not been shut down. We learned about the plights of people in Cagayan who were trapped on their roofs as waters released from the dams left their villages flooded.
Whenever disasters strike, the indomitable Filipino spirit is illustrated through donations, support, and community healing.
What happens when there are no more volunteers because they need to go back to their work? What happens when people get tired of donating?
We need a different narrative. How can we burden young professionals to be the hope of our nation when all they can do now is to focus on surviving rather than prospering? Why are we relying so much on our resiliency? We need this to survive, but we also need to seek for tangible, long-term plans to minimize the aftermaths of hazards.
Romanticizing resilience breeds toxic positivity – a one-way ticket to escape inefficiency. Instead of accepting the way things are, let us focus on what needs to be changed. Authentic resilience requires leadership and long-term commitment from all levels of government. It may not aid in the profile building of politicians, but prioritizing the allocation of resources for calamities is exactly what we need because no one knows when major disasters could strike. It is only when leaders are able to look beyond their political fortunes can we respond to the critical challenges of our time.
Those in power have long abused the Filipino’s resiliency. Our ability to withstand adversity should not preclude us from demanding accountability. We should continue to demand accountability – be it asking the government to be transparent on the use of public funds or asking if there are safety systems put in place against disasters and if there are, are these responsive to the times? Beyond resiliency, we need to hold the government accountable. — Xyza Vasily dela Pena