Calamities and Public Accountability
Calamities. We have them all in the Philippines. Natural and man-made disasters are risks that we confront every day. In spite of this, we never become immune from them. Calamities and disasters do not harden us or make us unfeeling entities. We continue to fear them even if we try our best to accept that God wills them.
However, submissiveness to fate does not us less revolting to the helplessness accompanying our suffering. Ironically, suffering makes us more persevering.
Natural calamities do not happen because of witches’ curses. Likewise, nobody is born with natural magnetism for disasters. These phenomena have scientific explanation. In fact, science of calamity has achieved such clarity that its explanation about the causes of natural disasters appears indubitable.
The presence of the government during calamities is very important. It brings hope to people. However, more than the goods that the government can mobilize is the expectation of victims that their officials will help them rebuild their lives.
Calamities test the competence of public officials to govern. Great leaders go beyond the fragility of human nature and lead people calmly to recovery. Euphemistically, this is grace under pressure.
The earthquakes and typhoons that hit the southern Philippines us to question the competence of the government in helping people survive. Aside from compiling statistics of dead and injured people, what is the government doing to allay the fear and anxiety of the survivors? Do government officials show sensitivity to the plight of victims by shunning luxurious display of wealth and privileges?
We have heard the argument that the government cannot be blame for every misfortune of its citizens. There is no government on Earth that can prevent all bad things from happening. And most often, it is the people themselves who complicate their situation. Be this as it may, however, the argument is missing the point. On the contrary, people do not blame their government for failing to do those things which are beyond its capability. In truth, they are merely calling upon their officials to account for what is expected of them under the situation.
Questions of credibility and legitimacy always appear a political administration everytime it is perceived not to be doing enough for its people. When the ruling regime fails to translate its slogans to policies and programs, doubts as to its right to continue its mandate to govern emerge. And when public officials continue with their reckless disregard of the public welfare, people begin to think of ways to uproot them from office.