Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Strong and The Mighty

I was walking by the highway in Argao one night and I saw this old woman getting ready to display her fish by the side of the rode. By tradition, many people in the countryside do this: they farm and then go down to the lungsod to sell their farm produce; similarly, fisherfolks catch fish then sell their bounty at the market.

The old woman had the look of someone who has been fishing and selling for as long as she could remember. And, without a doubt, she was obviously also someone whose family has been involved in this practice for many generations.

That night, as I passed her, I saw several municipal law enforcement people talking to her. It turned out that she was being asked to leave because she had not secured a mayor's permit and other permits needed for her to sell in the streets.
While I applaud the town of Argao for being strong and vigilant in matters of taxation, I believe, idealistic as I still am, that people like this old woman should not be made to pay for permits. She and her family, I am sure, make barely enough to eat three meals the following day. And yet here is the government, trying to get its claw into whatever measly amount people like the old woman make.

And yet there are people like the Sesaldos who own a huge store near the market who scatter their garbage and other foul dirt all around town. And what is being done? Nothing. Nothing is done because, according to the official line in the local government, they had tried to get near the store of this Sesaldo guy but the men from the LGU were met with hired goons with shotguns. And the people from the government? Well, they simply backed away.

People get poorer sometimes because the government simply does not care. And people like the Sesaldos simply get away with making the town dirty because the political leadership in Argao is weak.

So where is justice here?

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