EDITORIAL: Man-made disaster

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Howling like unleashed demons over the oceans, typhoons have become every Filipino's experience, especially between June and December of every year. Some of these typhoons are painfully etched in the nation's memory for their ferocity. Names like "Ondoy," "Falcon" and "Milenyo" still strike fear in many of those who fell victim to their blade-like winds and endless rainfall.

Fortunately, we learn. So government now tries to get ahead of typhoons by planning evacuations, suspending classes and sending out evacuation and rescue patrols. The horrors unleashed by 2009's Typhoon "Ondoy" in particular have spurred government agencies into preemptive action.

In the Aquino administration, preemptive action has taken form in the "zero casualty" policy, the execution of which is coordinated by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), acting on forecasts made by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). But somehow, despite all that planning, despite all that readiness, people still die. That's because you can never "outplan" the fury of nature.

"There are those who ask us why 'zero casualty' is often the policy of the Aquino government... Even if there are preparations, there really would be [casualties]," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing regarding Typhoon "Pedring's" effect on the country. "What the government can do is to ensure as much as we can, according to our capabilities, the security of those people who are in the path of, and who would be affected by, these types of calamities."

The numbers speak for themselves, as of this writing, Pedring is said to have left 50 dead and over 5 billion pesos in damages to property. The figures could have been so much worse if not for the palpable, coordinated efforts of the NDRRMC and other government units, including LGUs, in evacuating people out of harm's way and in sending boats and trucks to rescue those affected by the really bad weather. It cannot be doubted that the orchestrated government plans enabled the Filipino people to better prepare for these weather disturbances. But government can only do so much.

In the wake of Pedring, and right in the path of the next, Typhoon "Quiel", many towns and cities in Central Luzon have been left underwater; thousands of people are stranded and billions of pesos worth of crops have been wiped out. The problem is, while many of those stranded were simply overwhelmed by the swift rise of water after the intense rainfall, followed by the simultaneous releasing of water from dams, there are also those who openly defied the government's evacuation order.

Unfortunately, some of us never learn. There is a variety of reasons for staying behind despite the order to evacuate. One very common, and understandable, has been to protect their homes from looting. But perhaps the worst we hear is that townspeople feel their local government is simply overreacting, that Pagasa got it all wrong - or simply, that they don't think the waters will rise high or fast enough to merit leaving their homes. Often, they exacerbate the situation by keeping their loved ones with them, trusting in their own estimates instead of what the government and its agencies are saying. Another terrible example of stubborn miscalculation, fishermen would lay sail despite the Philippine Coast Guard's order to stay away from the increasingly stormy seas, their need to earn trumping their common sense, and so many of them go missing in the gale.

"Kung tumutugon lang sila sa advisories ng Pagasa at ng council na ito, maiiwasan natin ang casualties (If only they heed Pagasa's advisories and this council, we can avoid the casualties)," NDRRMC head Benito Ramos told reporters.

The Aquino administration's efforts to mitigate the harrowing effects of the typhoons may not be perfect, but they are active measures meant to minimize the death count, damage and destruction. True, the agencies can do better, but they are doing their part, forecasting and preparing, as best as they can.

It is thus left to the citizens themselves to have faith in their government's efforts, to believe that the government has their best interest in mind when issuing evacuation orders and bans on putting out to sea. Faced with the sheer force of nature, it is up to everyone to make sure a natural disaster is not made much worse by disastrous decisions made by man.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack
    US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed on his face and arm in Seoul on Thursday by a blade-wielding assailant opposed to ongoing US-Korean military drills. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which left the ambassador bleeding profusely as he was rushed to hospital, and said that President Barack Obama had spoken with him. Witnesses described how a man with a blade concealed in his right hand had lunged across a table at Lippert at a breakfast function at …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options