EDITORIAL: Displaced then Stranded

It is not fair and just to label in a sweeping manner all those who avail of the government’s Hatid Probinsya scheme as Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI). Obviously it is a kneejerk reactionary government measure in order to partly contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Apparently the step is an oblique approach to depopulate the NCR and CALABARZON area. But hailing Metro Manila based individuals to the provinces is a poorly crafted strategy in solving the ever pestering traffic congestion at the metropolis. There should have been a more in depth study on the probable reasons why the so called LSI suffered such treatment lacking of compassion.

One of the probable reasons why they have opted to go to the provinces is they have no more place to stay at which could have been attributable to a number of factors like having been ejected by their landlords due to nonpayment of rentals.

Such situation could have been due to loss of job or source of livelihood, which may be attributable to the lockout of the establishment they were working at. It might be due also to their having been duped by scheming labor recruiters and the government failure to provide them necessary assistance, leaving the subjects abandoned to the cruel atmosphere—both natural and social.

This best applies in the case of the woman from Calabanga, Camarines Sur who was left no choice but to stay strayed along the streets of Pasay after having been almost virtually dumped by her employer, and eventually died allegedly due to Covid-19.

The Hatid Probinsya approach may be likened to treatment of humans as trash with the provinces as the dumping areas. Among sea farers there is a more fitting description of that practice: Jettison. This is resorted to when a ship faces wreckage and the less important cargos are dumped and exposed to the risks of the ocean’s wrath.

There are no concrete plans to help the poorest of the poor who in effect are being shoved from NCR to the provinces which sad to state are ill prepared to be considered a land of promise.

Anent this point, Mindanao which used to be pictured as the land of promise can no longer be classified as such, given the worsening peace and order situation and repeated occurrence of nature driven calamities like earthquakes, typhoons and floods, brought about by widespread illegal mining and logging activities.

The central government is gradually nibbling the power of Local Government Units as enshrined under the Local Government Code, while at the same time hurling more responsibilities to the latter by twisting the arms of the LGUs using the Covid-19 as an unseen tool for arm twister.

The late Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. a genuine human rights advocate and the father of devolution of government power, must be turning in his grave.

The state of being stranded is more of a result due to yet unknown factors. Those stranded are left without means to move somewhere. Those displaced are forced to leave their home for a number of reasons.