The ultra tragedy is rightfully said to be but one deadly manifestation of abject poverty in the country. Poor people lost their lives. Poor people were badly hurt. Poor people were traumatized.
There is now an avid search for the culprits. The administration is leaving no stone unturned to find the villains. It is eager to blame on them and penalize the same. It wants to satisfy the clamor of justice for the victims.
The bigger tragedy in this pitiful saga of the poor is that the Administration appears to be succeeding in exempting itself from blame. Everything and everybody else are the objects of accusation. In fact, there seems to be a marked political color in the unfolding drama of the fervent witch-hunt for defendants and respondents in the case—a sad story that readily caught the attention of the international community.
While there are entities and agencies, groups and individuals deserving of censure and penalty, it is the summit of incongruity to even think that the administration is not accountable for the deadly plight of the poor at the Ultra catastrophe—including all the destitute and despairing, the hungry and sick in the country.
Where have all the public funds gone? What happened to all the moneys received from the huge internal and external government borrowings? How have all the ever increasing direct and indirect taxes been spent? Why are more than 16% of Filipinos hungry? Why do more and more Filipinos scrimp on food?
It is the present Administration that has to answer these questions. It assumed leadership with all means and at all costs. It is the height of hypocrisy for the administration to think and act as if it had nothing to do with the Ultra disaster—and with the misery of many people all over the land.
The Ultra tragedy is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg. It is but a small indication of a big socio-moral evil with its accompanying extensive socio-economic misery enveloping the land. And this national issue cannot be resolved by mere rice and noodle distribution, by sporadic largess here and there—much less by teaching geography to children.
9 February 2006