Philippine communities threatened

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Yesterday morning, fire again razed houses in another Cebu City community. Sadly, Tres de Abril residents are the new addition to the number of other fire victims elsewhere in the city.

With summer heat on, congested urban poor communities need to take extra precaution against fire. Water supply should be checked, its availability ensured. Space for fire trucks need to be confirmed. Residents should be reminded to take precaution not to have fire start in their houses. Regular fire drills should be encouraged, with residents taught what to do and where to go in case fire breaks out. Community fire brigades should also be created to manage the residents and their needs.

Police, traffic enforcers, health, psychological and welfare presence and service should also be in place now. During fires and other disasters, time is of the essence. People and other resources can be safeguarded with prior preparation and cooperation at all levels and across sectors.

Besides fire, other environmental factors threaten communities. Floods, earthquakes and eruptions can affect communities and peoples. Information and preparation are keys to mitigating the adverse impacts of natural disasters. Hopefully, local communities have effective disaster management systems in place by now.

Explaining their closure order as urgent and necessary to protect Boracay, residents and businesses are now threatened with loss of livelihood and income for the next six months. Did this government thoroughly study this closure order, especially on the impact on residents and communities dependent on tourism in Boracay? Was the closure order just for all - those compliant with environmental laws and requirements, and those non-compliant? Have safety nets for the people and communities been considered as well?

Was it the only option to environmentally protect Boracay? Were there other options taken, for a win-win alternative to the government-defined environmental problem in Boracay?

What is disturbing though is the report that the closure was really done not for the environment, the communities or the people of Boracay, but for Chinese investors interested to put up a casino in a 23-hectare area there. Yesterday Rappler reported that " contrary to the statement of the Department of Tourism, Leisure & Resorts World Corporation ( the local partner of the Chinese casino operator group, Galaxy Entertainment) says it has not abandoned its Boracay project."

Was Boracay closed for environmental or political reasons?

Remember Marawi City? Remember how the residents and communities in Marawi City were adversely affected by this administration's military decision?Was the siege of Marawi the only possible option vs. terrorists? Did that military option consider the vast devastation the siege would cause among the Marawi City residents and communities?

Recent photos of returning Marawi residents are poignantly painful to view. For the Marawi siege victims, seeing their homes gone, communities devastated must be unbearable. Can they, who mourn the loss of their loved ones, strive to restore hope in their hearts for a better today and tomorrow?

What about the Kalinga and other indigenous peoples who will be affected by the plan of the National Irrigation Administration and China CAMC Engineering Co. Ltd. to put up a P4.37-billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Loan Project "to  provide substantial and timely water supply for irrigation in support to the agricultural development of the government?"

Like the Kalingas in 1980, the indigenous peoples (Naneng, Dallak, and Minanga tribes) are against this project because they said, "this land is our source of living and also where we buried our ancestors." In 1980, MacliingDulag was murdered as he led the Kalingas in opposing the Chico Dam project of the Marcos administration.

How many more communities and people will be threatened by the DU30 government?

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