Tears and rage for our children
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - July 25, 2019 - 12:00am

How did you react when you learned that children were among those who died and were injured when a dump truck fell to its side in Boljoon last July 19? The victims were between 10 and 12 years old. Too young to die. Was regret one of your earlier reaction to that news?

A DepEd report said, “39 learners from Nangka and San Antonio Elementary Schools, together with two parents and two teachers, were on their way to a district athletic meet” that day.

Being children, the students may have been very excited to be among their schoolmates. They must also have felt honored and proud to be among the limited number of students selected to join a “DepEd parade and other activities for the Nutrition Month Cultural and District meet.”

All students may have looked forward to their experience at the district meet that day. They also may have looked forward to talking about their trip upon their return to their homes and families.

Sadly, however, a number never reached their expected destination that morning and never returned home. Conflicting reports wrote that about eight or nine of them died.

A Boljoon police report noted that “at least 15 children aged from nine to 13 and one 27-year-old woman were injured and were being treated at hospitals in Boljoon, Vincente Sotto, Carcar and Oslob. A further 12 suffered cuts and bruises and were able to return home.”

Initially, upon reading the sad report, tears welled up in my eyes. So young, too early to be gone. Many of you, perhaps, may have cried as well for these children.

For sure, many of us offered prayers for these children as well. “Lord, may the young, innocent children now bask in Your eternal love and embrace in their final heavenly destination. May the families they left behind receive Your comfort in the midst of their pain and grief.”

My tears, however, turned to rage upon learning that they were transported in a province dump truck to the meet. What? The dead children, as well as the injured, were being transported in a Cebu Province dump truck?

Why were the children transported in a truck meant for garbage?

Mayor Merlou Derama was reported to have said that “the teachers requested to use the mini dump truck to transport the students for the meet. He added it was the usual procedure, since there was no other vehicle available for the upland barangay students.”

No decent transport for our children? No safe vehicle to safeguard our children? The mini dump truck must also have been old and not properly maintained, otherwise, the brakes would have worked well and no smash would have taken place, and no dead, no injuries!

Who would not be angry to know that our children were transported like garbage in a dump truck that had not been properly maintained? Do not our children deserve to be treated as human beings, not garbage?

To make matters worse, it was reported that “the rescue operation was difficult as the provincial government has recently recalled the town’s ambulance. The town used other trucks to bring the victims to the hospitals.”

We hope the injured were no longer transported in dump trucks to the hospitals in Boljoon, neighboring areas and Vicente Sotto.

Are you not angry that huge public funds intended for our children and our people are channeled instead for private interest?

Are you not angry that our children died and were injured in this shabby, disrespectful manner? Do not our children and our people deserve better, more protective, humane, genuine public service from government?

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