Cash aid, ‘screaming hollow blocks’

By: STEPHEN CAPILLAS November 02,2017 - 09:35 PM

CAPILLAS

At the risk of sounding downright uncharitable and heartless, I have to question the wisdom of allocating an additional P9,000 as rental for displaced fire victims in Cebu City on top of the P20,000 cash aid and the three-day meals given to them.

This aside from the temporary housing — usually a school, gymnasium or even a barangay hall — and the building materials given to the families if they are allowed to rebuild in their former area, which is a 50-50 proposition especially when there’s private land owners involved.

Maybe if P9,000 or P10,000 was added to the P20,000 calamity cash aid given to the families, there is perhaps little to ask or debate on. Multiply that P9,000 to the number of displaced families, which can number to the hundreds, and that’s a significant amount.

And according to the Cebu City Disaster Risk Management Council, the P9,000 will be set aside as “rental” for housing for families who don’t like staying in gymnasiums, schools or barangay halls.

Problem with this is that there are reports of victims supposedly using them for other less desirable purposes, like liquor, gambling and so on. If the Cebu City government instead built adequately equipped and climate-resistant evacuation centers, does the city need to spend more for housing fire victims?

While Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña may think nothing of spending P9,000 for each fire victim, maybe the Commission on Audit (COA) will have something to say about it.

* * *

News of Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque’s appointment as the new presidential spokesman may have drawn less negative feedback from the Duterte administration’s critics if he hadn’t come out swinging even before he had a chance to warm his seat in Malacañang.

Roque’s statements that he won’t curse but “scream” and that he will fight fire with fire — or more precisely, hurl (figurative) hollow blocks towards those who hurl stones at the Duterte administration — suggests that he won’t be the diplomat that his predecessor, pastor Ernesto Abella, is when it comes to dealing with mainstream media.

On learning about Roque’s “hollow blocks” warning against Duterte’s critics, some Facebook friends working in media joked that they hope Roque hurls enough hollow blocks at them so they can start building their own houses. “Dugangan na lang semento, payts na (Just add cement and it’s good to go).”

But the man’s credentials speak for itself which include a specialty in international law and some areas of interest including transportation and public utilities which he taught at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law.

Despite drawing comparisons to other hated Duterte Cabinet officials like Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, this early, Roque at least deserves the benefit of the doubt from those skeptical of how he’ll perform as presidential spokesman.

* * *

US President Donald Trump’s call for tighter immigration laws in the wake of the recent violence in Manhattan, New York, that left eight people dead and 11 injured came hours before another attack, this time a lone gunman, opened fire at a store in Denver Colorado and killed three people before fleeing on foot.

While immigration debate continues to rage in the US, not far behind is the groundswell of support to restrict gun ownership which is being countered by the gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Though the Manhattan attack involved a truck driver running over people on the eve of a Halloween street parade, it only showed that violence is as unpredictable as ever and that it doesn’t need guns to inflict death and harm to its intended victims.

At the same time, how people respond to it will decide whether such violence will continue unchecked.

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TAGS: aid, amount, audit, blocks, cash, COA, commission, hallow, resistant, says, screaming

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