LOOKING IN: Where’s the rehabilitation money? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:40

BY ROD BALBON

 

The President’s revelation during last Monday’s SONA, regarding the release of billions of pesos for the rehabilitation of the devastated war-torn areas in Zamboanga City brought about by the MNLF siege last September was really surprising. He even reported that the evacuees are now being transferred back to their areas in Sta. Catalina, implying that houses or bunkhouses have already been built for their shelters.

If we may recall, PNoy promised last year that the national government will appropriate P3.6 billion for this purpose but many of us were frustrated in waiting for him to fulfill his promise. His announcement last Monday took many of us by surprise, but some were still skeptical and dismissed this as a hoax.

This situation could have been avoided if Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar had informed the denizens of the city, especially those hapless evacuees, that a large portion of the fund, as promised, has already been released for the rehabilitation of the affected areas in the city. But her silence betrays transparency and candor.

This only led many to ask where and how is she spending the big amount of money for this purpose? It has been almost a year after the unfortunate MNLF siege but the refugees are still encamped at the city’s sports complex (I won’t put the name of the late Joaquin Enriquez, Jr. because the place has totally been desecrated and destroyed by them) and along R.T. Lim Boulevard. What kind of bunkhouses were built and how much is the cost of each unit? How many hectares of land were purchased and at what price?

Unless these things are monitored and done transparently, this money will simply be siphoned by persons with sticky hands and used to line up the pockets of government officials, contractors, and brokers. In the end, our city will be like those places ravaged by typhoon Yolanda who up to now have remained unreconstructed, helpless and pitiful, forgotten by the national government.

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Last Monday’s ambush killings of 23 persons in Talipao, Sulu by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group may turn out to be the vital factor that will alter the prevailing peace and order equation in the province. The victims, together with more than thirty companions, were on their way to the mosque to pray and thereafter celebrate Hariraya which marks the end of the Muslim’s 30-day fasting.

Killing these people, to include young innocent children, is highly inconceivable and totally cruel. Moreover, just like the ASG terrorists, these victims are also Muslims like them. Recently, this group has also been kidnapping even poor Muslims for ransom.

Based on very reliable feedbacks, this recent incident has angered all Muslims in Jolo and has practically changed the perception and respect of their supporters who are quietly supporting their terroristic activities in the province.

The ASG will soon face the wrath of the populace whose patience they have practically exhausted.

This reminds me of the other terroristic group called the Hamas in Gaza who uses civilians, including children, their homes, mosques, schools, and hospitals as their shield, depots, and launching pads of their missiles to Israel. The swift and deadly retaliation by Israel have resulted to the death of more than 2,200 civilians and flattened numerous buildings and other structures. The Gazans are now slowly realizing that supporting and abetting the terroristic acts of the Hamas is a big mistake. They’ve seen the other side of West bank, also occupied by Palestinians but ruled by the Fatah Group of Minister Abbas, who are living peacefully. Egypt and Jordan are also vocal in supporting the move of Israel to annihilate the entire terroristic organization after fully realizing their main objective.

The military should take the initiative to rally and solidify this citizen’s outrage against the ASG. In so doing their mission to establish peace and order in the province will eventually be fulfilled.

Good luck gentlemen.