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TyFoon Asis

March 24, 2014

Iloilo City


“Livelihood” was an esoteric term in the early ‘80s when the Marcos regime introduced the KKK or Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran, a multi-billion peso venture in soft-loans to entrepreneurs nationwide. Livelihood was manna from heaven and promised to turn the place where it fell into paradise.


With a mere “notice” sent them by TF Asis of Iloilo City Hall, residents have little time to prepare when the task force demolition team backed u by the police, swoop on them days after. For most of them, their roadside stores, repair shops, vulcanizing, coffee shops, fish stands, etc. are their sole means of survival. (Photo by Limuel Celebria)


KKK did not benefit the poor comprising peasants, workers, unemployed and the landless. The manna landed on the lap middle class and government functionaries, especially, military officers who availed of up to P50,000 per person. At that time when the worker’s monthly income ranged from P700 to P1,000, the loan package of P50,000 was something and more than enough to invest in inland fish farming, set up sari-sari store, venture into poultry or piggery, a furniture shop, etc.


The Marcos government treated that as a give-away and did not bother to collect from borrowers. KKK started off from a cavalier presumption that recipients, the poor, are stupid and can’t stand on their feet. Its central concern is prop up the sagging image of the dictator.


Let’s visit the place where my feet are anchored now: Iloilo City. Atty. Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor, mayor of Iloilo City from 1992 through 2001, comes to mind when the term “livelihood” pops up, though he may not be the sole or best example in that field.


Mansing might not have verbalized his alternative theory of livelihood but practices it: promoting one is “to do nothing”. Yes, all government needs to do is do nothing.


“To do nothing” means local government should only recognize the productive capacity of its own people, hence, his practice of just providing a conducive climate for it.


Instead of giving dole-outs, Mansing’s administration simply tunes in to what is on hand: Iloilo City is full of such – artisans who craft or repair furniture, engines, vehicles, electronic gadgets, street kusineros frying peanuts and cashews in full view of pedestrians, vendors who make life convenient by setting up makeshift stores nearby selling fruits, vegetables at reasonable prices.


Or barbers who put up shop on sidewalks. The list is infinite to show that Iloilo City is not wanting in people with skills to make themselves and the community self-nourishing.


Mayor Mansing knows that though he doesn’t categorically verbalizes it, that is, he simply lets them be. His administration gives the climate of tolerance. At one point, his friend, Larry Jamora, asked him to drive away mobile kiosks cooking food because fumes from their stands defaced the paint of his buildings in downtown Iloilo. Mansing smilingly told him: “pabay-I lang d’a sila (let them stay).”


Even residences whose walls are far from the shoulder of the road are not spared as the house in photo which lost its front wall including the gate to TyFoon Asis. Irt is even far from the roadside tree planted by the barangay. (Photo by Limuel Celebria)


The incumbent Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog to some extent followed his predecessor. When he was still councilor he authored an ordinance creating a night market, similar to the ones he saw in nearby Asian countries where a particular public place becomes one giant bazaar at night until morning selling local delicacies, souvenir items, even imitations of branded products. Mabilog’s brainchild is still unborn because Rep. Jerry Trenas, the mayor then, turned to be a disinterested midwife.


Mabilog makes history by pushing through a similar livelihood program called “pedestrianization”, closing from vehicular traffic the junction of Iznart Street from corner Arroyo Street up to Freedom Grandstand. The “pedestrianized” portion becomes an agora for buyers to scrounge for bargains – clothes, shoes, hand tools, electronics, foods, toys, etc. Others may stroll in the middle of the road but must be careful for kids who convert the whole road into their playground. The street becomes cooler and relaxing to walk by minus the heat and fumes from vehicles.


Mabilog converted to the grandiose concept of livelihood which he must have ingested from his uncle, Senate President Franklin Drilon and this changed the vector of his economic program that broadcaster Jun Caps calls “beutificaaaatiiiioooon”.


And this is disturbing. This morning, March 24, 2014, Limuel Celebria uploaded pictures of a clearing operation by Task Force Anti-Illegal Structures (TF Asis) at La Granja, La Paz district.


TyFoon Asis, packing the velocity called “sheer madness”, flattened everything in its path along road shoulders, worse than supertyphoon Yolanda.


Yolanda’s wrath of 350 kph wind velocity, was known a week ahead, but the sheer madness of TyFoon Asis, just swooped down unannounced wrecking not just the makeshift stores and shops and their goods and tools inside but worse, the heads of its victims.


It’s befuddling: here are hundreds of families – skilled families – who live with their toil, who don’t ask government for food nor enrol in “Four Ps” of BS Aquino, here are people who cry neither for loans nor grants to start a livelihood, here is a community which thrives on its feet making both ends meet with minimal if not zero aid from government.


Their future is unknown as Mabilog has not provided one to cushion the blow of privation.


A platoon of PNP officers was at the scene, not to protect the victims whose only tools for survival were being demolished, but to protect the wrecking crew.


They have to be driven away so the road is widened and clear in order to ensure the unimpeded passage of the vehicles and goods of the rich and famous.


TyFoon Asis victims are left asking themselves: where shall we go from here?


If they so ask that, I would be glad to tell them to first hail the masterminds and implementors to the Ombudsman for grave misconduct, act unbecoming, oppression, usurpation of judicial authority, acts prejudicial to public welfare, etc.

The victims were not public nuisance or nuisance per se, and many of them have their fences and structures outside the sidewalks, yet TyFoon Asis still demolished their gates and parts of their walls without first offering compensation nor securing a court order.

TyFoon Asis, an extension of local executive authority, still needs a judicial order to eject structures which do not in anyway obstruct the road.



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