The Double- Whammy Misfortune of
By Apolinario Villalobos
THE CONFLAGRATION OF MT. APO…….
Kidapawan has been the traditional jump-off point of trekkers who delight in scaling the slopes of Mt. Apo any time of the year, but most especially, during summer. The attraction of the sacred mountain has been enhanced by the various exotic fruits of the locality and the tribal festival….all those have put the city in the map of adventurous tourists, both local and foreign.
The village of Ilomavis that used to be just pockmarked with huts of Lumads became the site of a thriving resort that extended up to the hot springs of Lake Agko. Unfortunately, with the conflagration that started at the camping area, halfway to the summit, and which did not spare the “moss forest” where thrive indigenous orchids the famous of which is the “waling-waling” (vanda sanderiana), patches of wild strawberries, and the meadow carpeted with dwarf bamboos, the mountain has become just an object of admiration from a distance, with all its sorry parched state. Another hundred or more years are needed to develop another “moss forest”, for the meadows to coax dwarf bamboos back to life, and for the patches of wild strawberries to take root.
The cool slopes of the mountain have provided exotic tropical fruits such as durian, rambutan, mangosteen, and that of rattan vine’s, with a blissful haven. But this will now be just a thing of the past. The Lumads and the various indigenous tribes that used to live peacefully in the slopes and who used to eke a living from the fertile volcanic soil are now left with no recourse but seek inhospitable nooks in the valleys farther away from the convenience of Kidapawan City where their children go to school and where hospitals are for their sick. Worst, if they will be helped by the non-government organizations (NGOs) that are suspected by the government military to belong to the “red side”, as the Department of Social Welfare admits its difficulty in penetrating the inhospitable valleys, these peaceful tribal Filipinos and Lumads will be accused of cuddling communists.
THE KIDAPAWAN MASSACRE……
Even while the conflagration of Mt. Apo is going on, another misfortune has put Kidapawan in a bad light due to the so-called “Kidapawan massacre” that resulted from the killing of farmers who were just asking for the promised rice, to help them through the devastating effect of the El Niἧo. Instead of a few kilos of rice, bullets were unscrupulously sprayed to them that resulted to the death of some and the wounding of others. The dilly-dallying of the provincial government has caused it all, despite the calamity fund for the promised rice to have been approved in January 2016, yet. People then began to ask where the calamity fund went. Unfortunately for the North Cotabato provincial governor, because of the incident, her records were checked which yielded an anomaly, forcing the Ombudsman to file a graft case which could eventually land her in jail. The provincial governor is Emmylou Taliἧo- Mendoza.
The anomaly is about governor Mendoza’s direct and unauthorized purchase of diesel fuel from the gasoline station owned by her mother…all without the pre-requisite approval of the Bidding Committee that should have approved the qualified bidder/supplier. The Ombudsman found her guilty of the graft amounting to more than Php2 million. The case made many eyebrows rise and sarcastic comments that connect it to the calamity fund for the purchase of rice intended for farmers who are suffering from the effect of El Niἧo.
The “Kidapawan massacre” has greatly tarnished the amiable and peaceful image of the city because of the provincial government leadership’s irresponsibility. Reports are rife even about the provincial leadership’s refusal to accept donated rice for the farmers, when all that the Provincial Crisis Committee that Mendoza heads was suggest that the donation be brought to custody of the Methodist Church that has been all out in helping the farmers ever since, if she does not want her administration to handle the distribution. The grossly despicable attitude of the provincial administration is capped with the “massacre” of farmers…. a tarnish of a lifetime in the image of Kidapawan City, though clearly, not of her own doing.