In the Filipino’s street language, they are called “kawatan” or thieves who prey on other peoples’ weaknesses or misfortunes.
When the monsoon rains wrought unimaginably high flood in Metro Manila and Central Luzon in the past week, some people refused to leave their homes because they feared their valuables might be stolen once they abandon their houses.
When government rescue teams came to their homes, they refused to board the boat because they thought they would rather stay at the roof of their houses than be robbed of their hard-earned valuables.
These people could not be blamed for deciding to risk their safety for fear that kawatan take advantage of their dire situation. Never mind the thunder and lightning! At least they can take chances than be victims of something that they can prevent.
When I went out to check on my cars parked outside our compound last Tuesday night, I learned that a neighbor’s house has been ransacked by these lowlife men who should be burned alive or should be skinned to death.
Fearful of the high flood caused by the heavy rainfalls, my neighbor’s family left home in Malabon for a more secured, safer place, leaving all doors and windows padlocked to discourage potential thieves.
Unfortunately, they were wrong.
These kawatan were proven to be more ingenuous and determined. Never mind if their victims suffered from damages caused by flood. Who does not, anyway? Everybody suffered, so we might just take advantage of what we can suck from them.
And then, in the rush of securing whatever valuables left to us, I also learned that some more creative and entrepreneurial kawatan were milking other people stranded in the streets when they were trying to go home or to their offices.
I do not have good word – and much less admiration – for their entrepreneurial efforts. I am referring to these kawatan who built makeshift bridges, boats made of scraps, or foul-smelling trisikad who charged ridiculous high fares at the expense of their hapless customers.
Walang kaluluwa talaga! It sent my blood to boiling point! Pardon me, but these kawatan do not deserve to live in this world! Not a single minute!
Our barangays should keep peace and order at all times, and most especially during these emergencies. They should not leave the national and local government units to do all the work they should be doing.
Otherwise, let’s scrap barangay units at all! They were just plain and simple inutile! They were not there when we needed them most. They were not there when you need to be protected from their soulless kawatan.