Thursday, July 20, 2006

Deathtrap: LEBANON (Incompetence and Insincerity)

With the latest debacle this administration is facing, when and where will the next conflict erupt?

Despite the obvious mishandling of the Lebanon evacuation, Malacanang has not changed its policy of sending our contrymen to toil in distant lands. While bombs were raining down in Lebanon, the Pretender gainfully exchanged pleasantries with Khadaffi. Upon her return, she boasted of bilateral agreements which will enable more Filipinos to work in Libya. What astonishes me is her lack of interest with the lives of more than 30,000 OFWs trapped in Lebanon.

Her cabinet boasted of a "Plan" to get these OFWs out. Ermita even said there are many escape routes our people can take to get out of war-torn Lebanon. "Ikaw kaya ang pumunta dun and like Moses, lead our people to the Promise Land?" Cimatu even had a "wilder" suggestion. He would plant big Philippine flags so the Israelis would avoid hitting our people. He must be a big fan of Nardong Putik and mistook our flag for an amulet. While several countries have been evacuating their nationals, ours were left in the cold to fend for themselves. The administration had asked these OFWs to find shelter and protection in Catholic churches. They also admitted the lack of funds to effectively evacuate our weary countrymen. Total cost of evacuating the 30,000 Filipinos is estimated at more than $8M. So far, the government has released "loose change" to help fund the evacuation.

One would wonder where the OWWA funds are. Our OFWs are charged $25 by OWWA before they leave the country. Other fees are also collected by different government agencies in connection with their travel and employment abroad. With the volume of Filipinos leaving everyday to work abroad, one could say these fees are more than adequate to fund the evacuation. Which now leads us to the question of where these funds went? These funds are to assist our OFWs in their time of need. It seems that the OWWA's well is dry and funds exist only on paper. Where did all these money go? Perhaps to the campaign kitty of the pretender?

The remittances these OFWs send is what keeps our economy afloat. The sad part is when turmoils like the Middle East is currently embroiled in puts the lives of these OFWs at risk. Lack of strategy and contingency planning has endangered the lives of our "New Heroes". Despite the enormous contributions these people make, our government could care less but instead push more of our people to seek employment elsewhere even if they put their personal safety at risk. Abused by the very government tasked to care for them, they slave long hours in their desperate attempt at making life a little better for their loved ones.

The sad reality that lack of oppurtunity in spite of the administration's assertions that the economy is picking up is what drives these people to leave behind their families. The callous way this administration has treated our people is unforgivable. Just think of the social repercussions this policy of enslaving our countrymen in other lands has on our society. With their children left to fend for themselves and the increase of marriages gone sour, how can the basic unit of society fight for its continued existence?

Lebanon is truely a deathtrap and a showcase of the administration's incompetence and insincerity towards our unsung heroes.

*I'd like to express my thanks to Yuko, Anna, Vic, Jon Mariano, Emilio, Toots Ople and Uniffors for highlighting the cause and plight of our OFWs the world over. May your tribe increase.