ROUGH CUTS| Lumads’ evacuation: too long already

A NEW concrete bridge connecting Pangyan in Calinan district to the other side of Davao River which is Lampianao, still part of the city’s third district, is now undergoing construction..

     No doubt many would look at the bridge as a welcome development considering that it will allow access of people and products from both sides of the river to where the best market will be and which place people want to go.

     However, the bridge stands to be a white elephant of a project for some time because nothing in terms of return on investment is expected from it. Zero ROI, shall we say. Why? The answer is simple. The government is building the bridge in an area where both roads leading to it are in real bad form and hardly passable.

     The road from Barangay Talomo River leading to Pangyan down to the new bridge’s approach is far from ideal for transporting goods and people. The situation is similar from the bridge approach in Lampianao going up to Cuabo and down in Callawa up to where the same road is to be connected.

     We believe that the project would have been better appreciated had the government, national, we suppose, fixed the roads on both sides leading to the bridge ahead of the bridge construction. Had this activity been done, we can be certain that right after the opening of the bridge connecting Pangyan and Lampianao, economic activities would have immediately started utilizing the new span.

     Of course, with third district Congressman Isidro “Roy” Ungab holding the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, the budget for the fixing of the roads leading to both approaches of the bridge may already be in place.

–ooOoo–

     Yes, we believe that the City Health Office (CHO) should now impose its regulatory authority insofar as managing the sanitation of the Haran center at the Brokenshire Health Ministry Complex at Fr. Selga st. is concerned.

     The center is teeming with Lumads or indigenous people who have evacuated their communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte allegedly due to the continuous operation of the military against the rebel New People’s Army (NPA). According to the evacuees and the activist groups supporting them, the lumads are being harassed by the military for their alleged support to the insurgents. The evacuees and their leaders are saying that they will only return to the uplands if the military stop its operation in the area.

     It’s been months now since they left home, and apparently the military had not heeded their plea for a pull-out because until now the lumads are still encamped at the Haran Center.

     Apparently though, the management of Haran might not have monitored the condition of the center itself as well as the health situation of the evacuees. This is clear because the management of Haran has not made any public pronouncement on the condition of the center as well as the health situation of the lumad evacuees.

     So, it is possible that the CHO people may only have a hunch that given the long period of the evacuees’ stay in Haran, the undesirable sanitary condition of the center must have already taken its toll on the physical health of the lumads. So the inspection was conducted by the CHO through a team headed by Sanitary Inspector Robert Oconer. The result was annoying because according to Oconer, there is clear evidence that those who are acknowledged as leaders of the lumad evacuees as well as the leaders of the activist groups supporting them, are unable to impose discipline especially on the matter of the lumads’ solid waste disposal, especially human excreta. The CHO officials are giving them a failing mark.

     Of course we have to understand that the number of lumad evacuees now inside the Haran center is roughly seven hundred (700) people, or almost a population of an entire barangay.

     What intrigues us a bit is the apparent dogged determination of the Haran management and the various support groups’ members to continue accommodating the lumad evacuees despite their number. Feeding some 700 mouths, caring for the children who are with their parents, and looking after their physical health is one nightmare of a resource mobilization challenge. And if the perception of the military of the lumads’ link to the rebels is to be added to the baggage of the Haran management and leaders of the support groups without them buckling down, then in all likelihood, only traits of kindness and brotherhood are forever present in their hearts.

   Now, could there be truth to the military’s perception that their hearts and sympathy are really for the rebels? Only the lumads can dispel that.

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Posted in Opinion