Ex-UP chancellor: Filipino resilience must not be used to justify inaction in disasters

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2020 02:47 PM

Residents of Barangay Banaba in San Mateo, Rizal return to their homes to clear mud and debris after massive floods brought by Typhoon Ulysses inundated several parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA— Filipino resilience must not be used by politicians to justify inaction during repetitive disasters as this is an insult to the people, a former University of the Philippines chancellor said on Tuesday.

“Maraming may gusto sa term na ‘yan, positive nga daw ‘yan. May mga tutol dito, kasama na ako dito. Noon pa, naiinis ako sa term na ‘yan pati yun assertion na Filipinos are the happiest people on Earth,” said former UP Chancellor Michael Tan. .

(Many like that term, they say it's positive, others are against it, including myself, and the assertion that Filipinos are the happiest people on Earth.)

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Tan said foreign media coverage during Tropical Storm Ondoy, which submerged parts of Metro Manila, showed smiling Filipinos amid the flood and projected them as happy and resilient people.

Politicians then used this as a resort to feign positivity even while their response to disasters is wanting. 

“Pero napansin ko nga na pati politicians natin mahilig gamitin itong term,” he said.

(But I noticed that even politicians are using this term.)

Tan also cited overseas Filipino writer Ninotchka Rosca, who he said was also against the term used by politicians to justify the lack of action. 

“Hindi tama ito, insulto ito sa mamamayan,” he said.

(This is not right, this is an insult to the people.)

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It has also been widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“Matatag tayong tao, but let’s not let the politicians abuse it, 'yung inaction ulit pababalik-balik tayo dito kasi ginagamit nila na ‘wag na tayong kumilos dito or let’s give them a little ayuda at hayaan na lang,” said Tan.

(We are a resilient people but let's not let the politicians abuse it, the inaction will just keep on happening because they use this as an excuse not to take action or to just give them a little help then let them fend for themselves.)

The COVID-19 lockdown has required millions of people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Kung sinasabi ng gobyerno na resilient ang mga Pilipino, ang demand natin you as government people must learn to be resilient as well. Napansin natin tuwing may sakuna — sa coronavirus ang tagal bago nakarating ang ayuda kasi may mga protocols sila—ilang tranche ginamit diyan ‘di pa umabot sa 2 sa iba’t ibang area, that is not resilience,” he said, referring to government's cash aid released at the height of the pandemic. 

(If the government says Filipinos are resilient, the demand should be, you as government people must learn to be resilient as well. We observe that every time there’s a disaster—it took a while before the coronavirus relief arrived due to protocols—that is not resilience.)

“Let’s go back to the original meaning of resilience and take away the politization and cooptation 'yung paggamit ng term na ‘yan (of the use of that term),” he said.

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