Lim: Wishful thinking

·3 min read

On the 26th day post-Odette, power returned. Was I relieved? Immensely. Was I grateful? Definitely. But a bit sad I had to write to be heard.

The devastation was real but so was the exchange of money. Straight from the horses’ mouth, I heard it. And their money did work wonders. But no longer, I hear. Now, linemen are refusing to accept “anything.” Good work, Visayan Electric!

Some did not “voluntarily” pay. They were asked to pay to have their areas “prioritized.” And yet, their areas were, in fact, already ready to be energized. Just a switch away and yet, the desperation of people after weeks without water and power was preyed upon. There is a special place in hell for these vultures.

For others, it was the bright idea of leaders in the barangay or village to collect money from homeowners so their locality could be prioritized. In whose altar do you worship when you buy and sell souls?

When you light your candles this weekend, know that you cannot pay your way into the Kingdom of God.

Not all linemen are corrupt. Not everyone with power resorted to bribery. Visayan Electric condemns these acts. But shouldn’t they do more so we, consumers, do not have to be at the mercy of vultures?

The practice is not new. Pre-Odette, linemen can be quick to arrive to repair but then, can take suspiciously long to restore. One time, I had to ask, “What are you waiting for?” After an exchange of knowing looks, they switched it on.

I know how the world works. I know how to give appreciation. But I will not succumb to extortion.

I have no wish to malign all linemen. But as we praise those who do right, so should we call out those who do wrong. And while I laud Visayan Electric for acknowledging the problem, I ask them to get real.

Would someone trying to extort money from me actually give me his full name? How do I surreptitiously take a good picture of him as well as his vehicle plate? I play detective in my spare time but my skills are confined to social media stalking.

These guys could do me and my family harm. They could cut our power too. The threat of retaliation is high. Do you see how difficult it is to report an abuser? It’s like asking your child to report an abusive nanny.

Will she be believed without proof, instantly? Will the abuser be removed from her immediately and permanently? Will she be safe from her abuser for the rest of her life? If you’ve been a victim of abuse, you know what I mean.

The struggle is real—for those still waiting for water, power and Internet connection to be restored. A friend, having been exposed to a Covid-positive, isolates in a home still without light or water. “I wish I were a writer and had a column in a local newspaper,” he tells me.

Well, I wish I didn’t have to write a column to be heard.

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