President Rodrigo Duterte’s disciples called Vice President Leni Rodredo dumb for suggesting to leave Marawi as it is and make the ruins as a monument to the ravages and evil of terrorism. Jumping at the Veep’s gaffe, Digong’s bubuyog (bees) seized the Robredo statement and went to town on it to portray the perils of having her lead the country as the constitutional successor.
While I agree that the Robredo statement was dumb, there are other people asking the question that if she is dumb, who is dumber? Robredo or Duterte ? For telling European Union ambassadors assigned here “we don’t need your money, you can leave within 24 hours” Duterte could be regretting the hasty outburst. Here’s why:
The European Union is considering the grant of 100 million euros for the reconstruction of Marawi and development of Mindanao. This was according to the EU bloc Ambassador to Manila Franz Jessen who said the money would be granted in two tranches—55 million euros immediately for the rebuilding of war-torn Marawi and another 45 million for the extended development of Mindanao.
Funds and donations from the international community have started pouring in for Marawi. The United States, Canada, Australia , Russia and Japan, including EU member Germany, are sending in foreign aid for Marawi. Most of Marawi’s houses and buildings are beyond repair as a result of five months of fierce fighting between the terrorists and government troops. Structures made of concrete were bombed by government planes to flush out terrorists using them as defensive positions.
But how did President Rodrigo uterte who is from Davao which is part of Mindanao react to the EU offer? During a scathing speech, the diatribe-prone Digong told European ambassadors assigned in Manila to “pack up and leave within 24 hours.” This he said without checking his facts. The group was not an EU bloc mission. The president bristled at the small group of little known European parliamentarians who assailed the alleged extrajudicial killings of suspects in the Administration’s bloody war on drugs In his usual umbrage, Duterte lashed out at the EU for meddling in the Philippines’ all-out war on drugs. He also denied he ordered the extrajudicial killings.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano made it official when he stated the Philippines will no longer accept loans and grants from the European Union. Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, in an attempt to out-nonsense Digong even called Europeans as “sex maniacs, ” an allusion to a few Europeans arrested here for being pedophiles.
I’m not going to dwell over spilled milk regarding the EU offer of financial aid. However, because President Duterte himself said war-ruined Marawi is going to need P50 billion to rehabilitate, the 55 million euros could have gone a long way not only for the city’s reconstruction but also to assist the dislocated people of Marawi recover their livelihood lost in the war when the Maute/ISIS terrorists laid siege to the city.
Mindanao, a vast group of fertile islands has long been touted as the “land of promise.” But Mindanao, even after a turnstile of Philippine presidents, remain only as such—neglected by a slew of presidential promises. It’s not just Duterte alone who’s responsible for the neglect but others before him. But Duterte is the first president from Mindanao, he has a golden opportunity to do something in his remaining five years in office. Will he, can he, deliver Mindanao’s decades of neglect , the benign kind that has metastasized into malignant with armed groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front seeking to secede from the Republic. Add the splinter bandit bands like the BIFF and the Abu Sayaff and you have a fertile ground for civil war in Mindanao.
Take a look at these figures in a Business Mirror front page report by Michael M. Alunan on why poverty prevails despite robust growth:
“How come agriculture as a percentage of gross domestic product has steadily been declining? Records from the National Economic an d Development Authority show that agriculture as a percentage of GDP has been dropping from 31 percent in the late 1960s to 29 percent in 1971, 23.5 percent in 1980, 22.47 percent in 1990, 17.5 percent in 2005, 15 percent in 2012, 10 percent in 2014 and 9.7 percent in 2016.”
There is no need to go on. What the article essentially conveys is that there is no soil erosion of the land in Mindanao. The decreasing number of agricultural production is basically the erosion of leadership.