Part I. Flood Murder: Victims Squatters –
Killers Government And Squatters Themselves
[Ist of a Series]
by Edwin A. Sumcad
Stories of death by drowning because of flood in the Philippines caused by serial storms are heartbreaking, to say the least. Actually, it was murder by flood through neglect, corruption and incompetent National Leadership.
Victims by drowning are squatters … but the murderers are the corrupt and incompetent government and its accomplices -- the squatters themselves.
There is no doubt that it is because of government neglect, corruption and incompetence that flood murder is occurring in the Philippines, and why flooding in the Island Republic has a vicious way of claiming its victims.
Authorities don’t mind poachers and trespassers of government woodlands; they have no way of understanding or too incompetent to comprehend the need to safeguard and preserve them as part of the patrimony of the nation.
Illegal logging of the green mountain forests of the country, and wanton destruction of Philippine vegetation by entrepreneurs that pay tong to corrupt politicians to mock the law and stash away their hidden profits, had caused the erosion of soil when it rains creating a flooding effect downhill … landslides of mud that turn the land and the swollen rivers below into a churning sea of rising murky waters.
Squatters murder squatters by drowning. Colonies of squatters are the number one violators of anti-littering laws; desperate, the squatters live an undisciplined and disorderly lifestyle, unmindful of hygiene and cleanliness that the neighborhood requires. They just throw their garbage in the street – their trash and refuse clogged the drainage and their shanties constructed by the side of canals and inland waterways, blocked the flow of water into the sea, thus causing flooding that kill people – mostly called “Informal Settlers” -- by drowning.
“The number of squatter families represents 21 percent of the estimated 2.6 million households in Metro Manila. One in every five squatting families lives in danger areas such as riverbanks, floodways, roads, aqueducts and under bridges …” These are the victims of their counterpart that clog up and jammed the drainage, and blocked the waterways turning towns into overnight inland seas, sometimes larger than Lake Erie – to use a metaphor -- when heavy rains come and people mysteriously disappear into the belly of dirty and angry swirling waters.
This shocker is culled from MMIAC’s report [Metro Manila Inter-Agency Committee on Informal Settlers].
“Informal Settlers” is the new deodorized name for squatters. “Squatters” is a mean-spirited term from Hell identifying invaders of private and government owned land and space making them their own permanent residence.
Opportunist politicians running the Government “tolerate” and to a certain extent even “encourage” illegal squatting because of the squatters’ votes they need during election time. Thus the Government and squatters cannot accuse each other of committing this flood murder because in this heartrending tragedy, both are in pare delicto. But there is no question that bad politics, corruption, incompetent Government and the mindless squatters themselves had sent Metro Manila’s flood victims to their watery grave.
As of this writing, a bigger hurricane code-named “Lupit” is sighted about a thousand kilometers approaching Aparri, Cagayan, Northern Luzon, Philippines, even as people are still dying across the country due to the deadly typhoons Ketsana and Parma [international names] that just took their toll of destruction and loss of human lives if not by drowning, by flood-caused injuries and diseases.
By the time this super-hurricane hits the country, our statistics of casualties and mega-size devastation shall have been updated, and plea for international donations and relief worldwide shall have intensified.
This countdown of the dead and the dying may be horrifying to contemplate when Halloween’s 31st of October is approaching … the day Evil is supposed to rule the world. Scary reports of thousands of Filipinos dead through drowning and still missing, and three hundred thousand people already displaced by the storm are choking the foreign and local Media that are currently outdoing each other in reporting one of the most ghastly news stories ever told.
On the humanitarian side, frantic calls for international relief indicated that in the squatter colonies of Metro Manila, the devastation, suffering and agony of the victims in certain stricken areas were beyond monetary estimation.
It may still surprise a lot of people to know – most likely they don’t know yet, until they get hold of a copy of PAR and read this column] that the root-cause of this regularly occurring annual Philippine catastrophe is not necessarily the deadly tempest of the angry god from above that brought whirlwind to wrought havoc to the burgeoning Metropolis and poured down torrential rain to cause rivers to overflow turning the flat land into a sea of mud and dirty waters. The real cause is a combination of the squatters’ delinquency and disorderly lifestyle, government apathy, corruption and incompetence that viciously sent victims to their watery grave.
When people are killed this way, the killing is actually murder by drowning. And the principal murderer is not the wind or the rain but the inutile National Leadership that the so-called unthinking and emotionally-driven “people power” of the street [EDSA] had installed through the use of force, threat and intimidation orchestrated by conspiring political opportunists that when in power do not only ambush the national coffer at will but also miserably lacks the required statecraft, know-how or the art of governing or managing the affairs of the state.
In governance, the National Leadership is like fish in dry land. Wanting of knowledge and lack of wisdom and having a low self-esteem, it is impossible for them to solve the problems of squatters and the eternally occurring flood that do not only kill people but also destroy the country … it is just plain, downright impossible!
Think about it this way and understand this depressing situation: The country had fallen into the Dark Side that Alfred Hitchcock’s FearNet in television and cinema specializes, catching stricken viewers spellbound who later on need to undergo a shock therapy. Typical of a shock plot that Hitchcock stories are noted for, administering the Government is nothing more than just a great opportunity to get filthy rich. Members of the presidential entourage that take control of Government through the exercise of mob power in EDSA, are self-re-enforcing partners in massive corruption. Their aim of governance is not to govern but to gobble up what’s up for grabs.
Just recently [earlier last year], China’s giant ZTE telecom corporation that won the bid for the Philippine online communication project was reportedly involved in a shady deal with the corrupt Manila Government. ZTE spokesman Howard Xue denied involvement in the $330 million contract which was overpriced by $130 million demanded by Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, the president’s husband, and his accomplice ex-elections Commissioner Benjamin Abalos as “kickback”.
This “kickback” negotiation was so rotten the heady smell of it reached the nose of the Philippine Congress where investigation was subsequently conducted. When the dirty finger caught in the cookie jar was exposed, EDSA president Arroyo, visibly in panic, immediately scrapped off the deal.
This is just an example of the finger of corruption caught in the cookie jar. Other fingers that got away with it, had stolen millions if not billions of dollars at the expense of the Government run by “people power” opportunists, and woe to millions of the starving poor whose cookie jars are systematically emptied even before these are filled up by their hard earnings that go to the Government after paying their taxes.
The country loses $2.5 million to corruption every day! Think about it, even if you are about to cry with tears of blood in your eyes. The World Bank reported that this loot is one-fifth of the national budget or 3.8% of GDP. Imagine how large this is compared to the take of corruption in other corrupt countries the world over. This corruption-stricken country ranks first in the size of massive poverty that grossly committed larceny of public funds creates.
That’s how immensely colossal corruption is in the Philippines once dubbed by the nation’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal as the Pearl of the Orient Seas because of its beauty, tranquility and rich natural endowments people of the Orient covet, and now people running the Government rob with impunity!
At the aftermath of the typhoons that ravaged the country, some P12 billion calamity funds have been currently made available – meaning public money up for grabs. Experienced crooks in the Government have to be clever enough in planning and designing ways and means on how to steal this money with the least of suspicions.
Created was this Special National Public-Private Sector Reconstruction Commission to oversee how this fund is disposed. It is staffed with prominent characters in Philippine society. It is chaired by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, and co-chaired by no less than Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu himself. He is supposed to be the vicar of God that teaches morality and exorcise the stricken country of the demons of corruption. Who would think that this Emissary of God would steal the people’s money?
That’s precisely the point why such trustworthy-looking Commission was cleverly created headed by the Holy Ambassador of God, if you happen to know what I mean.
Anyway, opportunist politicians who have such great opportunity to steal, need tons of money for next year’s presidential election. If they are going to take a heist, they have to be sure it is not a miss or a mess.
Elections of this kind are traditionally run by goons, guns and gold. Goons they already have. Guns they already have. Gold by the truckload they still need to have to buy the election as usual.
When election approaches, fingers get itchier to poke at the cookie jar. In 2004, some P728 million budgets for fertilizer easily disappeared a couple of months or so before the election. It reportedly went to President Arroyo’s political allies. She “won” the election.
Would the calamity fund also disappear and surface at the hands of the survivors and families of the flood victims that are selected “eligible” to receive for political reason? If not, then the elite calamity fund Commission gets the public’s ire. Unless the co-chairmen deemed to be above suspicion are involved in pocketing Judas’ pieces of silver before they hang themselves at a nearby tree, the crooks always get away with it.
They may be are too dumb to understand why people die by drowning when the typhoon comes or too incompetent to handle the squatter and flood problems of Metro Manila, but when comes to how government funds end up in their pocket, no … definitely they are not that retarded!
In fact they are smarter than the Sly Fox in the sad story of the unsuspecting Red Hen – prey of the wild that always ends up as chicken dinner to the wise and cunning characters of the woods, especially to predators in the precipitous if not treacherous jungle of Metro Manila. #
© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. PAR access November 9, 2009.
Part II: Incompetence And Flood Of
Corruption When Typhoons Come
[2nd and final series]
by edwin a. sumcad
You read in Part I of this editorial report that in the Philippines flood is actually “murder”. The victims are squatters. Murderous criminals are corrupt politicians running the government, and their partners in crimes are the squatters themselves.
Wallowing in extreme poverty – the Philippine Smokey Mountain is in the Internet viewed worldwide – squatters lived a desperate and undisciplined way of life that breeds monstrous floods.
For example, millions of dwellers in the squatter colonies of Metro Manila and peripheral urban centers – temporary squatting settlers invading and permanently occupying government and private lands – litter the streets with garbage or throw their waste and refuse in nearby canals clogging the drainage and choking aqueducts and waterways, thus preventing the heavy deposit of rain to flow into the sea.
When torrential rains come, the flood that rises to the rooftop turns the town into swelling and swirling seas of murky waters that carry houses away and send victims to their watery grave.
There are no government flood prevention programs whatsoever. Only a river of tears for the dead and massive destruction of infrastructures accompanied by a cry for international relief are plentiful for the regular yearly visits of hurricanes and typhoons that spare no one.
The rape of the nation’s virgin forests by illegal loggers creates dangerous mudslides when the rain comes. Massive devastation and reports of high incidence of death are attributed to this menace of flowing dirt, deadwoods and mud that come down from the mountainside with the flood.
And in the case of the squatter problem, for political expediency, squatters, mostly jobless from nearby provinces are reportedly encouraged by politicians running the government rather than discouraged to come in droves to the city, in order to get their political support. Metro Manila is the center of power. Politicians that control the set of national government in Metro Manila control the whole country.
There are no government funds that the country badly needs, to address these dual major problems that occur year in and year out. And yet, worldwide news reports documented not just a petit larceny but a mind-boggling grand larceny that sucks the country dry … the nation loses $2.5 million to corruption everyday!
Observers of the Philippine scene are of this general belief – and this writer totally agrees -- that the national leadership is not that of such a standard or quality fit to govern or run the daily affairs of the state.
The fragmented Military whose loyalty is not to the country but to politicians likely to succeed in grabbing power is said to be plotting a coup d’etat and counter coup d’etat everyday. EDSA “people power” exercised by goons and mobs in the street could change the government any day. No political stability exists in the country.
Legitimate foreign investors are scared to commit a long-term investment in this ill-fated nation; they skip the Philippines and put their money in nearby ASEAN countries – Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. – turning them into Southeast Asia’s prosperous NIC [newly industrialized countries]. The Philippines – where the first nuclear plant was established in that part of the world to jumpstart a turbocharger for economic development in the Far East – was left behind.
Instead, the IMF and IBRD had reported that the Philippines became one of the world’s poorest countries next to Bangladesh and similar impoverished sanctuaries of corruption.
It is not just corruption but also incompetence in governance that causes this great disappointment if not a haunting nightmare, to Filipinos disenfranchised by gnawing poverty.
There is a nagging question that swings in the pendulum of general apathy and neglect of the commonweal through faulty governance that drives millions of Filipino college graduates, young and old, to slave themselves as gravediggers, gardeners, drivers, bodyguards, “yaya”, housekeepers, servants or chambermaids to seek their employers and masters in foreign lands so that they can earn a decent livelihood and support a dying economy: What can one expect if the country is economically non-productive and barren because it is run by who-cares [?] kind of administrators, inexperienced and corrupt power-hungry opportunists?
The world sees popular actors and actresses whose Hollywood-styled careers in the cinema is deeply embroiled in politics [power-grabbers and headline-huggers], literally seductive bundles of pulchritude that charmed the crazed movie-going public into voting their screen, radio and television idols to elective public offices, including clowns and court-jesters from the entertainment world; include scions of incompetent and corrupt political dynasties that ruled the land for so long but knew nothing about the affairs of the state except in mastering their abominable expertise in the art of poking a finger in the cookie jar … out of this ridiculous if not tragic scenario, what in heavens name would the general public expect to come out of it to secure the future of the country?
There are talented and accomplished leaders from the entertainment industry that when elected to public office turned out to be great statesmen. The product of Hollywood, the United States’ President Ronald Reagan is just one of them. But unlike in the Philippines, Reagan does not have a spouse like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband who advises her how to run the Philippine Government and in the process grease money passes under the table while what’s in the national treasury mysteriously disappears like how the audience sees it and sees it not in David Copperfield’s magic.
In the Philippines, the name of the First Gentleman of the Land is Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo -- a name that to millions of Filipinos connotes a stigma of massive corruption in government. The latest corruption he was reportedly involved in was that notorious $330 million kickback from the government award of online communication contract to ZTE telecom corporation of China.
Neither does the United States have the likes of a Joseph Estrada as president surrounded by a coterie of tong collectors advising him how to run the government and plunder the land if the reportedly corrupt Sandiganbayan itself is to be trusted in finding the former movie idol president guilty as charged.
Millions across the land believe that slugger Manny Paquiao will make a good president to replace Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because boxing had made him an instant millionaire – meaning, Paquiao’s proof of success in pugilism is unfortunately mistaken as proof of being a great star in the predatory Philippine politics as well.
On November 14, 2009, Paquiao won his “seventh world boxing title in seven weight divisions, a feat no other boxer has achieved in the history of the sport”. Based on this extraordinary achievement in boxing, the “bakya” crowd that elects presidents expects Paquiao to be the next president of the Philippines! Elected Philippine leaders, particularly those in Congress, are political boxers anyway that do nothing except deliver punching speeches against each other. How about that for a rationale fait accompli in Philippine politics?
If Filipinos have to march again in EDSA [and I am sure any day they will march down this politicized avenue to change the government without the benefit of holding an election], there would be no doubt that “people power” in the streets -- dangerous to the stability of the region, according to former Premier Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore -- would make Manny the next president of the beleaguered republic.
If not taken seriously, this latest development is so comical to watch. It is all right for Paquiao to be an EDSA-installed president next to Arroyo so long as he is not surrounded by presidential advisers the likes of Miguel “Mike” Arroyo that in comparison would put the monstrosity of the present and previous presidents’ corruptions to shame.
There is nothing unpatriotic for Filipinos to speak out the disturbing truth of this Philippine political zarzuela that punishes the nation to penury because of massive corruption exemplified by the national leadership as a way of life. There is also nothing personal when Filipino whistleblowers need to come out of their turtle shell to talk about the painful realities within their territorial domain rather than just leave the task of blowing the whistle to outside journalists. As you can see, our butt is still exposed to ridicule when to cover up we stoop down or bend over to bury our head under the sand like what bashful and reclusive ostriches do.
This crazy thought that Filipinos should hide this national embarrassment from the eyes of the world by burying their heads under the sand because it is foolishly deemed an act of treason to talk about it is just as silly if not downright stupid as when Don Quixote jousts the windmill because the contraption is a delusional perception of a charging enemy of the state and society.
Flood of corruption, massive destruction and death by drowning when the typhoons come are symptomatic of a bigger and deeper problem the present generation of Filipinos is condemned to bear for life if not destined to be martyrs of the folly of the time much longer than a lifetime.
Suffice it to say, that so much distortion in politics that had become predatory, as well as skewed moral values ranging from corruption to wanton abuse, indifference, apathy towards the commonweal and incompetence in running the government plagued the country. It is reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah of which to save the gentiles or the innocent the Lord stands helpless on what to do other than decide to destroy and cleanse.
Young and new national leadership may come from military boot camps – that is if in a violent upheaval, like the proverbial Phoenix it is not destined to rise from the ashes. #
© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access PAR November 30, 2009.
Memo On Philippine Typhoons:
What To Do And Not To Do
[Epilogue to stories of the storms in the Philippines
previously written in this column. Ed]
The EDSA brand of national leadership is a Rip Van Winkle of the 21st century still snoring in the slumber of uselessness and ineptitude in so far as facing the problem of hurricane and flood in the country is concerned.
It is sad to know that the past and present Philippine EDSA governments installed by street mobs are incapable of doing anything to divert or stop the storm from battering the country year in and year out even though this causes numerous death and massive destructions – a national tragedy of mind-boggling proportion millions of observers believed is worsened by total indifference, corruption, incompetence and criminal neglect.
After more than twenty years of languor, lack of concern or apathy since former President Ferdinand E. Marcos had put in the drawing board the first attempt to stop the storm in the Pacific Ocean before it hits the Philippines, the Rip Van Winkle EDSA-government has to wake up, pause for corruption, think and do something fast before a hurricane-caused inundation would eventually submerge the island republic in the bottom of the sea so to speak.
This unbelievable irresponsibility in governance is too extended a tedium to harp on time and time again … the needed attention of the political leadership and the necessary action to prevent typhoon and flood devastation and death by drowning have been too long overdue.
In a layman’s term, stopping the storm or altering the path of the hurricane is commonly called in one of the reference climate reports simply as a “hurricane-modification project”. It is not that kind of sci-fi space odyssey discovery or lightning and thunderbolt story seen in James Bond like movies that drop jaws from the shocked audience … it is just a method of how to conduct an atmospheric control of a brewing storm from where it has developed and progressed into a powerful hurricane -- a scientific strategy that has been tried and made successful by weather scientists, more particularly by those nascent climate specialists known as “riders of the storms” in the United States.
How does the storm develop into a deadly tempest is no longer a guarded secret in the files of modern scientific discoveries. Documented findings  are released worldwide. They are vital to understanding how storms are formed, especially important to countries situated in the path of deadly Pacific hurricanes, like the Philippines:
“As air warmed over the Atlantic [Pacific in the case of the Philippines] surges up to meet the cool atmosphere, its heat turns into kinetic energy, creating a violent twist of wind and rain. The bigger the temperature difference between the hot sea and the cold upper air, the more furious the storm can grow.”
It is with this important knowledge on how a storm develops that it can be “killed”, weakened or diverted away from it’s destructive path.
Weather scientists “attack big hurricanes from above or below, sapping the storms’ strength by either heating up their chilly tops or chilling their hot underbellies. [W]ell-timed interventions could diminish a hurricane by 40 percent – enough to turn a possible Category 5 storm into a mere Category 2 or 3, which would break windows and wreck trailer parks but leave most buildings intact.”
Microscopic bits of salt are seeded under the hurricane’s “lower reaches”. Water vapor would turn into droplets “too small to fall to Earth’s surface as rain.” When this evaporates, it cools down the hot air, dissipating its kinetic energy that creates a violent twist of wind and rain, thus weakening and diverting if not “killing” the storm right from its inception.
To divert the storm, the top of the hurricane is “painted black” by dispersing “tons of a special kind of soot as high as 50,000 feet …” and the storm would disperse outward messing up its course. Salt particles are also hovered up by the storm’s churn thus
affecting its path.
Silver iodide increases rainfall when seeded in the clouds. In extremely cold condition, airport fogs are seeded to turn them into particles of snow as they fall to the ground. To nudge the storm, seeded rain is “reinforced and magnified by the storm’s own internal dynamics” as it veers away or changes direction.
Ironically, in the United States, this caused several lawsuits. Politics raises hell if hurricanes are diverted to spare states on the path and others are thrown into the middle of it.
It has been reported that the weather may be good to somebody when it is bad to someone else. Fruit growers in Pennsylvania seeded the clouds “to suppress hail over their orchards”. In nearby states, farmers adversely affected went to court. The court ruled that “Stealing clouds could be legally analogous to diverting stream.”
Fidel Castro condemned the United States’ Project Stormfury “using hurricanes as a counterrevolutionary instrument of war.”
The Philippines Had Such A
Plan Of Riding The Storm
I was in the UN when a grandiose plan to stop the coming of the storms to the Philippines was part of former President Ferdinand Marcos’ 20-year development blueprint approved and supported by the IMF and the World Bank.
The Marcos long-term development program was hatched to make the Philippines the West’s economic star in the Far East that would compete with Japan. The first nuclear power plant in that part of the world was located in Bataan, Philippines. It was put in place to jumpstart the rapid development of this once internationally envied nation in the Far East. Southeast Asia is a region of great potential that recently became the theater of political rivalry and economic competition among the Western Superpowers including Japan and China.
Scientific studies outlined the procedure on how to at least divert the path of the storm in such a way that it would not directly hit the Philippines, and would therefore spare lives and avoid a tremendous loss of the nation’s resources that slows growth in the region. It needed a great amount of funding. To get an idea how prohibitive the cost is, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated “$2.5 billion to buttress New Orleans against the next Katrina-level storm.”
The Philippines would probably need more if the budget would include kickbacks. International intervention was therefore sought for technical assistance and help of donor countries to make it as a “UN-assisted project of RP” [Republic of the Philippines] as how it appeared as an important item in the conference agenda of the UN Working Group that I have participated as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [UNESCAP].
In the UN, donor countries from all over the world discussed the technical assistance and funding of this Philippine weather project. Japan was one of the listed donors. Southeast Asian countries lying behind the Philippines facing the path of the storms coming from the heated Pacific oceanic stratosphere supported the plan so long as the weather engineering project would not let them catch the worse gust of wind or runaway squall.
Unfortunately, the Japanese delegation later on opted out of the project. Through the recommendation of Japanese scientists Tokyo reasoned out that Japan would be imperiled by the storm if its origin and development in the Pacific close to Japan is disturbed or altered.
Japan has always been not only a great patron but also a very generous donor of several UN and UNDP-sponsored development projects. But in a rather strange way to me, Japan, in my opinion, was well-respected by our peers in the UN circuit because of the dollar sign they visibly read in the forehead of Japanese delegates when we discussed global aid and technical assistance to countries that need them. Shortly thereafter, Japanese delegates did not only withdraw from the project but fought against it.
For the Philippines, it is a matter of survival to continue fighting for this project. Diplomacy is one of the powerful tools that can be used to gain a UN consensus to push it through. I know because I was there. But diplomats change chairs in the UN when they have to leave at the end of their tour of duty for new assignments elsewhere.
Diplomats are the same everywhere … which simply means that they have different and differing ways of dealing with diplomacy. Also much of it depends on the nature and purpose of their assignment by the home government. The administration changed when EDSA street “revolutionaries” took over the government.
Diplomacy is actually war fought in the international battlefield. As a diplomat, I cannot duplicate any of my peers in the UN, nor can I be duplicated after I retired shortly thereafter to a peaceful life.
For me, it is better to fight the storms somewhere in the middle of the ocean than to fight them at home when horrifying death tolls and massive devastations indicate that the country has no chance of winning the fight … a battle where losing to typhoons and flood is not only certain but eternal.
Today I feel sorry to say that the EDSA national leadership is not only bereft of any initiative to pursue this internationally known hurricane modification project but in fact despised it because it came from Marcos’ brain, the “dictator” they hated more than the Jews hated Hitler.
Politicians who run their EDSA kind of government in the Philippines, and to whom the riches of the nation are up for grabs, would rather hate Marcos’ legacy forever than abate the storm. To them an outburst of gale and thunderstorm or cyclone that levels to the ground anything standing and with the rising flood waters sends people to their watery grave is kinder than the thought of anything associated with Marcos.
In short, the country can go to hell if to hate the former dictator is easier to buy or cheaper a price to pay to entomb him in eternal damnation!
I hate to say this but I must write it down nevertheless: A pygmy mind sees the future through a tiny hole even much smaller than the head of a pin. That gives a clearer idea what pinheads mean.
It is indeed sad for me to articulate what I really wanted to say … that as a result of this infamy in national leadership, to appease the demons of typhoons and flood, the poor are sacrificed by drowning, in the altar of criminal neglect and apathy. #
© Copyright Edwin A. Sumcad. Access PAR December 21, 2009.