Poverty amidst the affluence that is Clark Freeport PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 August 2016 11:44

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… `The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’…” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in Matthew 25:40, the Holy Bible).

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POVERTY AMIDST THE AFFLUENCE THAT IS CLARK FREEPORT: Serving the poor and the needy as a Rotarian has many “ups and downs”. One of these “ups” is the feeling of satisfaction that the duty to help those who cannot repay in any way is fully complied with without conditions and the usual hassle of bureaucratic red tape.

One of the “downs” is the realization that, despite the huge money of government for projects aimed at uplifting the lives of the poor, many Filipinos remain severely deprived, lacking in even the most basic amenities of life like foot sandals, in a place where the soil is literally crawling with worms and other possible infectious maggots from decaying pets, human waste, and even animal discharge.

This was what I saw (and what other Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Intramuros Manila of Rotary International District 3810 and from the Rotary Club of Mabalacat Clark of Rotary International District 3970 also saw) during a visit we made to Sitio Babo, a place right inside the bustling Clark Freeport Zone which was the former home of the US Armed Forces in the Philippines.

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PEOPLE LIVING IN SUB-HUMAN CONDITIONS: Clark Freeport Zone is of course the place where the Clark International Airport is located. It is also the place where posh hotels and duty-free shops abound. It is also an upscale tourist-entertainment spot, featuring expensive and glitzy array of events which only the rich, the mighty, and the powerful can afford.

Much to my shock and bewilderment, however, I discovered that it is also a place where people live not as human beings, but as mere creations who are literally just slightly higher than animals, and whose only identification with life is being able to breath and move about, not experiencing what it is to eat three times a day, or to have sanitary toilets, or garbage disposal systems, or, as I said, even just foot sandals to protect their feet.

I had been forewarned beforehand, I have to concede, that what I would be seeing in Sitio Babo would jolt me out of my sense of compassion. But then, nothing really prepared me for the sub-human conditions that assaulted my sensibilities in Sitio Babo, amidst the wealth and affluence of a government agency called the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), and the billion-peso businesses that sprouted at the Freeport.

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WHY IS NO ONE DOING SOMETHING FOR SITIO BABO? Maybe, I thought, nobody from the national government, or Mabalacat, or from CDC, or from the big businessmen that have made Clark their playing field for increasing their wealth some more, gave a thought to the people in Sitio Babo because they belong to a tribe whose members have no political clout, nor the ability to speak out about what they need.

And this, perhaps, is the reason why the natives at Sitio Babo, who are the Aetas from the Zambales-Pampanga boundaries and hinterlands, would always have a ready smile and welcoming arms for Rotarians who come to them, because Rotarians come with projects that would address their needs, like sanitary toilets.

Toilets should, of course, be the responsibility of each and every family, but for Aetas who have no means of earning a living because of their lowly station in life, disposing of their feces would be the least of their concern. I am glad the Rotary Club of Intramuros, aided by its sister-club, the Rotary Club of Batemans Bay of Australia, and the Rotary Club of Mabalacat Clark, is doing all they can in this regard.

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PLEASE WATCH OR LISTEN: “Tambalang Batas at Somintac”, a news-commentary radio program, aired at DZEC 1062 kHz and other Radyo Agila provincial stations, and is aired live (and which can be subsequently accessed) at https://www.facebook.com/RadyoAgila1062/?fref=ts, and at www.youtube.com, 6 to 7 in the morning, Philippine time. Phone: 0922 833 43 96, 0918 574 0193, 0977 805 9058. Email: batasmauricio@yahoo.com.