BEHIND THE LINES: We will survive PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 December 2011 13:29

BY BOB JALDON

It gets my goat whenever Zamboangueños and those assimilated in our city of mixed cultures criticize our leaders for not bringing development into our city. They’re either blind, playing darn stupid or plainly insensitive to what’s going on in our city the last 10 years. Why do these people use ShoeMart, Robinson’s or Gaisano as the barometer of progress? The reason why these giant retailers do not have their malls here is because of the obvious imbalance in consumer spending because of the bazaars and malls that we already have – not to mention the small retail shops that are run by Chinese aliens that sell consumer goods that are even cheaper than those sold at 168 and 999 in Binondo.

Celso Lobregat, Erbie Fabian and Beng Climaco-Salazar are wisely and judiciously spending government funds for infrastructure and other projects to pave the way for the entry of private sector initiative. They have provided enough for education, health care, social welfare, housing and other basic needs attendant to development. For the love of Mike, we can afford not have SM, Robinson’s and Gaisano because we already have department stores providing the same commodities that these three retail stores are offering. I agree that these stores will provide employment, but I disagree with the critics if we use their presence as the foundation of development.

Davao and Cagayan de Oro have not left us behind in terms of progress and development. They have expensive hotels there, resorts and everything that money can buy. But so do we. We are just too passive to see what we have. They have countless of squatter families that cannot be relocate. We have relocation sites for hundreds of our own poor people. Our literacy rate is higher than most highly-urbanized cities because of the high standard of education being offered by our colleges and universities. The prices of consumer goods there are higher compared to ours. Traffic in these two cities is even worse than ours.  Yes, we are tricycle capital of Mindanao. That’s because it’s better to allow the more than 8,000 drivers to pester our city streets then leave them with no livelihood at all and turn them into criminals. Yes, the salesgirls and salesmen, waiters and waitresses are underpaid. It’s better that they are underpaid than not to have employment at all. But that shouldn’t be the rule. DOLE has got to do something about it. The Filipino-Chinese and the Chinese aliens (they who have embraced the Bureau of Customs instead of our embracing customs) make a lot of money that they have to spread their bounty.

Should Celso, Erbie and Beng be faulted for all this? There’s law and order to contend with daily. New York City has 34,000 policemen. The crime rate there is one of the highest in the world. How many policemen do we have in Zamboanga? The count is one policeman for every 800 people. They try to do their job as efficiently as possible. But the cops cannot cover the entire length of the city and keep it secure all the time. That’s a dilemma that we have to live with. We cannot stop an enemy that we cannot see. They strike like a white shark when the beach goers aren’t looking. No one can determine a murderer’s deadly plot. Nay, even the Americans couldn’t stop 9-11 from happening – not with all the billions of dollars that they have for intelligence. And, the critics question how Celso’s intel funds are being spent? My foot!

The people of Zamboanga and Cotabato (where chabacano is still being spoken) have to fend for themselves. Unless the bombings and other atrocities stop private sector investment will come slow. That is a reality we have to live with. But we have survived since 1973 (that’s when all our troubles started). Despite our woes, we are a proud people – blessed by the Immaculate Conception (our patroness), Nuestra Senora la Virgen del Pilar and the angels in heaven. As for the critics and the cynics – they can go jump in the lake.