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Not manipulated; say abandoned instead

/ 09:09 PM March 17, 2013

This refers to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman’s letter to editor titled: “Don’t manipulate people in need” (Inquirer, 3/11/13).

We in Barug Katawhan, the “manipulated” people that Soliman shamelessly blasted, cannot remain silent over this glaring insult to our intellectual and practical capacities.

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To  be called the “manipulated people,” especially by a Cabinet secretary who boasts of an 18-year stint as a community organizer, is as demoralizing as being hit by Typhoon “Pablo.” We are after all compelled by this great disaster to organize our ranks, rise up and present a humanitarian imperative. Nobody forced us, except that typhoon called Pablo and that worse disaster that befell after: the neglect and injustice of President Aquino’s administration.

For a casual reader, Soliman started her letter in credible terms. As expected of a public official who is used to playing with figures and digits, the billions of pesos were well arranged and printed on paper to appear factual. To the secretary, that is how to gauge transparency and accountability in handling people’s funds.

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However, for us victims and survivors of  Pablo, the numbers did not reach our grumbling stomachs, hence, we barricaded and we secured what was due us. We did not fail to remind them of their public duties. Soliman called us criminals just because we took over what they failed to perform—distributing the goods intended for the hungry survivors. She said what we took were for the victims of Typhoon “Crising.” But may we remind the secretary that we were also struck by Crising and Tropical Storm “Quinta.”

Secretary Soliman played Pontius Pilate when she washed her hands over the issues of corruption enshrouding the relief and rehabilitation operations in her department; instead she passed the blame to us victims who have long been deprived of such services.

It is sad that when we, legitimate survivors of Pablo, militantly assert our rights, we are branded hooligans and our acts are considered unforgivable, chaotic and lawless. But when government officials steal from the people in a quiet, orderly way, it is acceptable.

We wish to make this clear: We were never manipulated in any way. Long before Pablo, we had already organized ourselves as members of people’s organizations in our respective communities, and we decided to unite under Barug Katawhan with the intention to collectively work for our recovery. If we were loud in our assertions, it was because we cannot tolerate any longer the continued insensitivity of the state to our woes and pleas. We only echoed what millions of Pablo victims would have shouted in the face of President Aquino: We are in need, and your administration abandoned us!

—KARLING TRANGIA,

spokesperson, Barug Katawhan,

Compostela, Compostela Valley,

[email protected]

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