DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Nov) – Social Welfare Undersecretary Luz Ilagan hit back at singer Leah Navarro, a known supporter of the opposition Liberal Party and a critic of the first Mindanawon President, Rodrigo R. Duterte, for her comment that the recent powerful earthquakes in Mindanao were a “retribution.”
“It is so Unchristian, nay, so Unfilipino, to take unusual glee in seeing the suffering of others, simply because they are from Mindanao,” Ilagan posted on Facebook Saturday.
Ilagan’s post was apparently in response to the comment of Navarro, who answered “Retribution?” to former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te’s question on Twitter: “What’s with all the earthquakes in Mindanao?”
Te, who claimed to be a Mindanawon himself, later deleted his tweet and asked for apology from the Mindawons if his “rhetorical, non-political, and personal” post had given “platform” to hurtful comments.
“I have deleted a tweet and my reply-explanation to that tweet which, though unintended, have caused offense, pain, and hurt to family and friends in Mindanao where I am from, proud to be from, and which I love,” he said.
Ilagan, a former representative of the Gabriela Partylist, said it hurts her when she hears people from Manila “gloat and declare” that “retribution” has come to Mindanao.
She said Mindanawons quickly helped and did not celebrate when catastrophes wreaked havoc in other parts of the country just like when the Mt. Pinatubo in Zambales erupted and when super typhoon Yolanda ripped through Luzon and Visayas.
“When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, Mindanawons did not celebrate. Instead, schools organized relief operations and mobilized resources to send to Luzon. No fanfare, just quiet collective effort to lend succor to those in need,” she said.
“The people of Mindanao did not search high and low for reasons Mother Nature picked Luzon or Visayas for these catastrophes. They are essentials of life puny mortals must accept. And being human demanded humane acts,” she said.
Ilagan said then Mayor Duterte was among the first to provide help, including water and food, to the people of Leyte when Yolanda struck.
“It was not election time and he arrived ahead of the better-equipped groups from the National Capital Region,” she said.
Ilagan said truckloads of assistance from Davao were sent by citizens “who had gone out of their way to wish the relief workers a safe trip” to send aid to the victims of calamities there.
“Now, Mindanao is reeling from incomprehensible devastation. Must we search for reasons for the suffering and claim it is ‘retribution’ and that the people of Mindanao had it coming? It is sad. It is painful,” she said.
Sarah Ysmael Arriola commented: “Some people are just consumed by their hate that they have lost their humanity. I believe that there is heaven and hell. The hottest place in Hell is reserved for people who rejoice in the suffering of others.”
In another comment, Antonio Roullo Villasor said: “Those cynics and critics had missed the humanitarian points of compassion. They cajoled from their political biases and acted as myopic and mediocre. We must view these calamities in our whole country as a great challenge and act as you did Usec Luzviminda Ilagan as One People from a perspective of cooperation, respect and strength. Mabuhay ang mga gumagawa ng Pagbabago!” (Long life to those who are making Change!)
A strong magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck parts of Mindanao on Thursday, the third major tremor in two weeks.
According to Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), intensity 7 was felt in Tulunan and Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, and municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Matanao, Bansalan and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur; intensity 6 in Tampakan in South Cotabato; intensity 5 in General Santos City, Tupi in South Cotabato; Isulan in Sultan Kudarat; and intensity 4 in Lebak and Sultan Kudarat. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)