Editorial: Country of storms

Storms have besieged the country in quick succession in the past months. Just as Tropical Storm Paeng (international name: Nalgae) was about to exit on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, another tropical cyclone entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility—Queenie (Banyan), which the state weather bureau said may start bringing rain on All Souls’ Day, which falls on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Queenie, however, was expected to dissipate and become a low pressure area. Despite this forecast, the typhoons that have wreaked havoc on the Philippines are a stark reminder of climate change’s savage effect.

The Philippines is an archipelagic country, which means that most of the towns and cities have coastlines. There are river systems and other forms of waterways in the country.

It is high time for local governments to strictly not allow the building of structures along coastlines and other waterways, especially structures of informal settlers.

Local governments must also identify the areas that are susceptible to big waves when it is either Amihan season or Habagat season.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has geohazard maps; it is a no-brainer for local government units to follow and implement the agency’s recommendations like the no-build zones. If there are already houses and other structures in these no-build zones, the local governments must relocate the residents to a safer place.

The Saturday, Oct. 29 landslide in Sitio Garahe, Barangay Busay in Cebu City is enough to jolt the senses of local officials. Imagine if it had happened at night? There could have been lives lost.

Two days before the landslide, residents in Garahe noticed that the ground had moved amid the non-stop rains brought by Paeng. This prompted them to abandon their houses. Being cautious and having a sense of doom could save lives.

It was later learned in an inspection that the area in Garahe where the landslide happened was a waterway, but concrete structures were built on it.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama must approve the recommendation of the local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to declare the area off-limits to human habitation. It is for the safety of the residents.

The city and the rest of the local governments, including the National Government, must take the geohazard maps with all seriousness because the Philippines is a country of storms and miseries.