There has been an intensive debate, finger pointing and red/yellow labelling following the shooting that occurred in Kidapawan, Cotabato. On one hand you have the critics and the apologists of the government. The discordant observations of the events reminds one of the recounting of the slain samurai, his widow and the robber in Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon (which is a film that combined two stories the Grove and Rashomon by Ry?nosuke Akutagawa). In what seems to be this battle royal of ideas online an important point seems to have been overlooked or simply ignored. And this is the root cause of everything that has occurred, without it these things would not have happened: People would not have gone hungry; People would not have barricaded the highway; and there would not be any conflagration – no spilling of blood that has caused people to notice. And this is how El Nino and the Drought was managed by the Government.
The Government from the National to the Provincial to the Municipal and to the Barangay Level has procedures in place to handle disaster. This is no surprise since the country has been constantly visited by natural and man-made hazards. Disaster Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation procedures in place. For agriculture pre and post disaster measures include the following: (i) training, (ii) pre and post disaster assessment; (iii) bio-security and (iv) seeding/distribution/loaning of livestock crop, supplies and equipment. . Bio-security includes vaccination of livestock against diseases brought about by a disaster, often related to destruction of pens and other livestock infrastructure. One of the aims of these Agricultural measures is to ensure food security and economic security of the affected areas.
These relief and rehabilitation measures are part and parcel of the Government strategy to manage disaster. However, in recent years it has been pointed out that that relief and rehabilitation measure are not the only things that should be done. Other and equally important measures include risk reduction management and hazard resiliency. Such measures are effective not only for short term disasters but also important/crucial in managing long term hazards like drought and climate change.
Are these existing already? Yes. In Dumangas, Iloilo for years they have been using the Climate Field School as a disaster resiliency measure. Using scientific methods – in determining/forecasting climate conditions and selecting the proper crops through agricultural science – the farmers of Dumangas have been able to weather short term and long term disasters and even make a profit. Another example Cagayan Province uses weather and climate forecasting techniques along side with indigenous and learned agriculture methods to adapt and become resilient. One interesting measure in Cagayan Valley is the raquit an animal/crop bin designed to float during floods to keep the livestock and harvest safe. Anti-droughtt measures such as shifting to drought/flood resistant crop are used.
One of the factors that made this successful was the strong support given by the Provincial and Municipal Government who partners with National Government Agencies and Non-Government Organisations. For Dumangas at the Local and Provincial level, credit should be given to the efforts of the Mayors of Dumangas (Mayor Distura and the others ) who institutionalized the Climate Field School and Iloilo’s Provincial Agriculture Officer Toledo who built and firmed up the Climate Field School. Also the role of PAGASA training Dumangas’ weather observer cannot be overlooked.
These long term disaster management strategies are not only limited to Dumangas and Cagayan Valley but can be seen replicated in other parts of the country. In fact, farmer field schools have been in place and used through out the country. Also if you take a look at the laws surrounding Disaster Risk Reduction Management and the Climate Change Act they require the Government at all levels to implement plans that would make the Philippines disaster.hazard resilient. So the Government should have been able to handle a long term disaster like drought.
However, It did not.
This brings us to the Kidapawan Killing Incident . When a long term disaster like drought is mismanaged or worse not manage at all this will develop a situation wherein a community of farmers will not only lose their means of livelihood but will go hungry. In this case what did the National Government through the Department of Agriculture do? What did the Provincial and Municipal Government do? Did they just rely on getting rice in and not laid out and implement a plan so that their communities: their constituents are in this case drought resilient? Is the method use for short term or immediate hazard the same for a lingering and long time hazard?
In light of the existence of hazard/disaster resilient communities that can guarantee food security for its community the mismanagement or no management at the national, provincial, municipal and even barangay level is criminal act of apathy and negligence. And sadly mirrors the dismal state of our agriculture. Thus, the true culprit in the tragedy that led to the blood shed at that highway that day were those managing the state of our agriculture – the Government from the Presidential Palace along Pasig River to the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City to the Provincial, Municipal and Barangay offices of North Cotabato. Another case of a tragic case of government mismanagement.