FLOODS AFTERMATH

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.

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.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • 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 …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • 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 …

  • 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. …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • 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 …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options