By Raïssa Robles
We need to know what caused the recent tragedy.
We need to know because a lot of misinformation and disinformation are swirling around over the sudden death of hundreds of Filipinos, buried under tons of mud that cascaded down the nearly bald mountain ranges surrounding Compostela Valley at the height of Typhoon Pablo.
Before this tragedy, Comval had everything going for it. See video below:
The surrounding mountain ranges shielded the valley from destructive typhoons. The mountains remain rich in copper and gold, so much so that it is now honeycombed with tunnels made by gold prospectors.
Life was good for residents there. In 2005, a small school called Interface College of New Bataan (ICON) in the town of New Bataan started offering computer courses there.
The graduates formed friendships.
They also learned marketable skills.
I hope they’re alright. I don’t know what has happened to them or to their school, which is located in one of the most devastated towns.
The mass deaths in New Bataan and other towns of Compostela and Davao Oriental do give us pause about mining.
Mining could help lift the entire country out of poverty, according to University of the Philippines economics professor Benjamin Diokno.
One estimate on mining I’ve seen claimed that as much as US$12 billion in foreign investments could pour into the country once the government mining moratorium is lifted.
Behind the dollars and cents, however, are people whose lives are being destroyed by mining operations.
Is it possible to arrive at a negotiated compromise? Sacrifice well-defined sections of ore-rich provinces to mining operations? Officially declare certain areas of the country as “not fit for human habitation” because of mining? And in turn, pour – not trickle – the monetary benefits of mining directly on affected local residents?
The trouble with mining in the Philippines is that only certain people living in Metro Manila’s gated communities benefit hugely from it. When miners in business suits staging conferences in five-star hotels talk of benefiting the local host communities affected by their mining operations, the wealthy miners show slides of their free schools and clinics and sponsored sports fests.
I would be more impressed if they showed local residents dining as well in the ambiance of five-star hotels and sporting degrees from foreign universities just like the sons and daughters of the wealthy Metro Manila miners. After all, the wealth really belongs to them.
The sharing really has to be more equitable. Perhaps the new mining law could specify that whenever a mining company issues new stocks, a portion should be allotted for the purchase by actual residents living in the mining areas. As it is, only those with access to stock brokers can buy them. The new mining law should also have a revenue sharing formula which takes the rise of international metal prices to account.
And as for blaming condoms…
A senior Catholic cleric has hinted heavily that Typhoon Pablo may have been an expression of Divine displeasure over renewed attempts by Congress to legalize the free distribution of condoms and contraceptives to poor couples.
Speaking over Catholic radio station Veritas, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said:
“Ewan ko lang kung yan ay coincidence lang o dahil nga may pinapasabi ang Diyos sa atin na kapag iyan ay pinag-uusapan ng matindi ay parang may mensahe na nangyayari na maraming kahirapan na nagaganap sa atin.” [I really don't know if that is a coincidence that whenever the Reproductive Health bill is being keenly debated all sorts of suffering occur to us.]
According to ABS-CBN, another senior cleric Fr. Melvin Castro “stopped short of linking” the storm to the RH Bill but quoted the good father as saying:
“Although we would not give other meaning to it, nonetheless God speaks through his creation as well. Nature tells us to respect the natural course of things…Di ko alam bakit ganito (nangyari), wala namang bagyo.” [I don't know why this happened. There was no storm.]
In the Holy Bible, God punished one pharaoh with a series of plagues after he had refused to allow God’s chosen people to leave Egypt. Our senior clerics are hinting that Filipinos are being punished for trying to disobey God by passing a Reproductive Health Law.
Neither lawmaker signed up as a co-sponsor of the RH Bill or the Committee Report on the RH Bill. So they could be secret supporters or fence-sitters or even anti-RH advocates.
Why would God punish their districts if they could be his stalwarts against the RH Law?
Indeed God works in mysterious ways.
If, as Fr. Melvin Castro said, “God speaks through his creation,” why are we constantly visited by typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions? What was God trying to tell us during the deadly 1990 earthquake or Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991? What mortal sins have we collectively committed against God that he would punish us so?
Or is this some form of His cariño brutal?
As a Catholic, I cannot believe that God is quite so capricious. His priests oftentimes are. But not Him.