THE waters have receded. The evacuation centers now empty are being cleaned to serve again as classrooms, churches, and basketball courts. The evacuees have gone back to their homes in low grounds and along the river or creek banks. Everything is going back to normal until the next heavy rains and strong typhoons and the perennial floods. Will we never learn?

In my first trip to Seoul, Korea, I noticed the wide expanse along the riverbanks devoted to sports fields and promenades. I was struck by how suitably they were located beside a flowing river allowing sports enthusiasts to take in the beautiful sight and for the elderly to sit down on the benches that dotted the promenade taking in the cool breeze. Later I learned from my Korean colleagues that there was good reason for having the sports complexes (basketball, tennis, and badminton courts and soccer fields) and the mini parks on both sides of the river. When the river overflows, no homes are threatened and hardly any lives lost. After the flooding, it was relatively inexpensive to restore the areas to being parks and sports fields.

Why not do the same thing in the Philippines? Instead of allowing the residents to go back to their shanties along the many rivers of Metro Manila and the environs, why don't we transform these spaces into places for sports and leisure? This will also solve the problem of informal settlers being relocated from these sites and in a few months or so, a new group of informal dwellers occupy the area. We should know by now that any vacant area tempts the homeless to settle in.

When we relocate informal settlers, it seems that the main focus seems to be to just get them out of these high-risk areas. There is no concern that they are being relocated in low-lying areas prone to flooding. There are no provisions for social services - no schools for their children, any health centers, etc. Their livelihood are back where they were originally settled and if they continue to earn a living, they will have to expend so much for transportation expenses that they end up having two residences -back where they were and in the new site.

I remember that when the adjoining property in Quezon City of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas mint jammed with informal settlers was leveled by a fire, we negotiated with the administration of then Mayor Mel Mathay and the mayors of the relocation sites in towns of Rizal not just for the transfer but for ensuring that the social infrastructure would be put in place. We made sure that a non-governmental organization would handle the community development as well as assist in getting the settlers to grasp the entrepreneurial and livelihood opportunities. Of course each family was also provided funds to meet their transfer and relocation costs. In my visits to the relocation sites, I found the residents contented and staying put.

With R6 billion in calamity funds and elections not too far off, I am worried that much of the funds will be used for disaster relief (where expenses are difficult to audit) rather than disaster recovery, which involve establishing infrastructures and sustainable initiatives. It would make sense for local governments, including barangays, to present their plans and budget for the use of calamity funds rather than embark on a spending spree. Rather than keep these potential voters in high-risk areas, local government officials for once should act in the best interest of the people rather than their electoral ambitions. We could then make sure that in the next floods, there will be no victims nor houses to destroy in these high-risk areas.

Business Bits. Given the many vehicles submerged in the floods, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino should heed the suggestion of my good friend Gene Sebastian to suspend the color coding for one month.


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.

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options