No help from politicians for poor OFWs
Our lawmakers claim they need pork barrel funds because most of their constituents are poor and they want to provide them basic services to improve their lot. ‘In times of distress and emergency, who do they run to for help? Who else but us, say many politicians, who insist that they use their personal money and pork barrel to respond to the needs of the people.
Unfortunately, this did not happen to an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) with initials DG from Baybay, Leyte.
DG arrived home recently from Kuwait. In an SMS message she sent to Bantay OCW, she said she has been bleeding for a year but she could not afford the hospital bills. She claims she had no one to run to in the local level. She asked us if we could help her avail of the P10,000 livelihood package from OWWA, which she hoped to use to buy medicine. But we informed her she would not be getting this assistance, if she was qualified, in cash. Carmelita Dimzon, OWWA Administrator, clarified that they only provide OFW beneficiaries with P10,000 worth of goods to help them start a small business.
We were worried about DG’s condition. It’s not normal for a woman to bleed for such a long time. So we talked to her on the air over Radyo Inquirer and advised her to immediately consult a doctor. She replied that she did not have money for a checkup. Why not approach your mayor for help, we said. DG claimed the mayor’s people refused to extend any assistance to her because she did not vote for her.
We suggested that she seek help from the vice mayor instead. DG replied that the vice mayor could not help her either because he is the mayor’s son. How about your congress representative, we asked. DG insisted that she would be turned down as well since he is also the mayor’s son.
“In our province, the people cannot expect any support from those in power if they did not vote for them. That’s how our system works,” DG claimed.
We have no idea whether or not this is true. We were more concerned about DG’s health, we simply ignored her statements about her local officials and instructed her to go to Tacloban City, a two-hour ride from her hometown. DG again said she did not know anyone who could lend her money for her fare so the next day, Bantay OCW sent her some money for her transportation and other expenses. Zaldy Vilches, Bantay OCW resident mediator, had asked her brother Dr. Nestor Vilches, who works at St. Paul’s Hospital in Tacloban, and his wife Dr. Glenda Vilches, to treat DG and waived their doctor’s fees. And they agreed.
We kept in touch with DG until she reached Tacloban. Whatever money left in her pocket was spent for further tests so DG did not have cash to pay for her fare back home. Vilches called up Tacloban Councilor Jerry Uy for charity help and to make sure that DG reached home safely.
We wanted to verify the claims of DG about the selective response of politicians to their constituents. She could be wrong. Probably there are salient reasons why the response is slow; why poor residents seem unaware of where to go for charity social services. We wanted to listen to Mayor Carmen Cari, Vice Mayor Mike Cari and Rep. Jose Carlos (Boying) Cari, 5th district of Leyte.
We called up Congress through its trunk line and connected to the office of Rep. Cari. A certain Maui took our call and told us that the representative was not around. We asked if we could speak to his chief of staff (CS) instead. We were denied. The CS was busy entertaining someone, we were told.
We pleaded to staffer Maui if we could talk to the CS just for a minute. He insisted that the CS could not be disturbed as she was talking to some influential people and it would be rude for him to interrupt her.
So we waited on the phone for 30 minutes. Maui never even came back to the phone. Eventually the line went dead. He had said the CS was talking to “some influential people” or “malalaking tao.” Does that mean that Maui or any member of Cari’s staff would simply ignore the calls of less influential people or “maliliit na tao”?
We are not specifically referring to the Cari political family here, since we were not able to talk to them, but we believe that a true public servant serves the people whether or not they voted for him or her.
Susan Andes, aka Susan K. is on board at Radyo Inquirer 990 dzIQ AM, Monday to Friday 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon with audio/video live streaming: www.dziq.am Studio: 2/F MRP Bldg., Mola St., cor. Pasong Tirad St., Makati City. Helpline: 0927-6499870 / 0920-9684700 E-mail: [email protected]/[email protected]
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