How far should compassion go? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 06 June 2014 11:23



A headline in a local paper caught my eye. The story was about the assertion of the UN (or its representative)  that 64,000 IDPs from the September 9  raid on Zamboanga City  still need support. Since I know a couple of people at my volunteer work who fall under the category of IDP I asked one of them some questions.

You and your family are also IDPs, are you not? Yes, because our house was burned down during the incident. But we did not go to the evacuation center (the Enriquez Sports Center); we found a small apartment near where a relative lives. We are still there and we pay P3,000.00 a month for the apartment.

Have you received any assistance from the DSWD like most of the IDPs? Yes, but it was very minimal and only for a few days. We have not gone for additional help.

Do you feel that the assistance given to the IDPs has been equitable? No. Some IDP families have received far more in financial assistance than others. While some of us have moved on, many are still there expecting the government to support them.

My informant is a single parent and the only support for her family. She does not receive a fabulous salary where she works.

It is good to know that some families have moved on after the tragedy of September 6, making the best  with their lives  as the circumstances allow. These are the families who have not allowed themselves to become a burden to the national and the local governments. When they needed housing after their own simple houses were burned down they made the effort to find new accommodations on their own. God bless them!

It is good to know that the UN and  the national and local governments are still there assisting those IDPs who need assistance. But the question on many people’s mind is “Until when will this assistance be provided?” Viewed from a different angle, the question can go  “Until when do the IDPs think they should get the assistance?”

Those who have moved on under their own steam or with the help of relatives and friends are understandably feeling “What about us? Don’t we get some support too?”

If some people have moved on under their own steam we realize that this is something we can all thank God for. This is the kind of Filipinos we should nurture – those who have the get-up-and-go spirit. If some have not been able to do the same we begin  to think that perhaps these people feel that their being on the dole is just what they want after all, in spite of the complaints about being provided rice rather than their customary staple, about being assigned to evacuation sites far from their cultural milieu, etc, etc.

So, how should we modify the type of assistance given to the IDPs from the September 9 attack? What should the assistance cover?  For how long should the assistance be provided? I have no pat answers to these questions. All I can say is that the assistance should express our compassion for the IDPs and also contribute to their growth as people.