COVID-19 Op-ed

Dangers of Resiliency: The Exploitation of Volunteerism under the Guise of Civic Engagement

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Angelyn Turiano
Member, Youth Advocates for the Philippines Region V
Member, Anakbayan Naga City

After the super typhoon Rolly wreaked havoc in the Bicol Region, various groups from different provinces stepped into the picture to offer assistance that would aid severely affected individuals. While the government is playing blind-deaf to the battle cry of their people, donation drives from private sectors sounded the alarm on social media together with various organizations asking for monetary and in-kind donations. It was indeed a struggle to exhaust resources, enable transportation, and establish proper communication while cities and municipalities are barred down—all in the middle of a pandemic.

The courage in each one of us may be in deep slumber, but with constant affirmations from people that deepens our in-depth analysis and awareness which awakens various potentials, it can affect change in the long run if we choose to actualize our advocacy and serve its purpose aligned with the current national setting—advocacy that would not enact ways to feed the need for resiliency, but rather, advocacy that grounds to strong principles of our nationalistic and democratic aspirations—something that would serve the interest of the masses up to the grass root levels of our society. To be able to advocate for a mass-oriented development mechanism means to further the call to demand accountability, transparency, and efficient public service amidst being a catalyst carrying out Band-Aid solutions to a system growing backward.

This does not invalidate the efforts of those that embody the spirit of volunteerism in serving the people because it is clear that only through civic participation we can get a glimpse of the demands and interest of the community. This also does not demonize the acts of kindness by respected volunteers that aided the socio-economic crisis that endangered many lives for the past few weeks. We are always reminded with such upbringing that it is significant to back up our words with meaningful actions that we can consistently do one step at a time, strong enough to prove and justify the claims that Filipinos will always volunteer for the frontline when a situation asks for it, even if it means facing potential risks.

But even if spontaneous solidarity rekindles in the heart of strong-willed individuals, poverty in all aspects would still resurface in the community in one way or another if people will continue to live under the roof of a faulty and poorly planned system. It is also important to realize that all though people will always be willing to exceed their helping boundaries, it should not be a free pass for the government to allow Band-Aid solutions as people should not carry the burden of bad governance in the first place. There is no harm to aim for positive transformation in communities but volunteers should also be under the obligation to demand transparency and accountability from those who are in direct authority to act on specific community defects. The mishandling of the pandemic as well as the unprecedented events of three consecutive typhoons just exposed how important it is for the government to innovate, realign, and amend its framework to come up with radical solutions. While ordinary people are almost emptying their pockets to suffice the need for relief goods, government officials should not allow volunteerism to be exploited in any way. This boils down to the idea that to champion the goal of a society, the locality should not just resort to Band-Aid solutions but rather, find the cure to what is being aided.


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