Monday, November 2, 2009

More lessons from the Philippines' storms

Mong Palatino in UPI Asia: he Philippines was battered by four successive typhoons in the last two months. Typhoon Ketsana triggered the worst flooding in Metro Manila in the past 40 years. Typhoon Parma caused deadly landslides and mudslides in the northern provinces. Typhoons Lupit and Mirinae hampered the reconstruction efforts in the typhoon-ravaged communities of Luzon Island.

…Public response to Ketsana once again affirmed the special status of Metro Manila in the country. Ketsana almost forced the national bureaucracy to a halt because many government offices suspended their operations. Politicians postponed their activities and glamorous social events were scrapped. Maybe this was understandable since the storm caused massive damage in the country’s capital, but the same extraordinary attention should be shown as well when disasters hit the far-flung provinces.

…Does a storm have to hit Manila first before we express alarm about the fragile state of our environment? Does a storm have to displace Manila residents first before we begin to worry about the condition of flood and storm victims?

The twin typhoon disasters also revealed the weak and ineffective quality of flood-control infrastructure in the country. In particular, Parma forced policymakers to review the dam operations throughout the country.

….Ketsana and Parma also exposed the failure of health authorities to provide adequate information about the spread of various diseases linked to rising floodwaters. Two weeks ago, a Leptospirosis outbreak was declared in several provinces. Hospitals are admitting close to 400 Leptospirosis patients everyday. About 167 deaths have been confirmed already.

…The underwhelming performance of government rescue and relief teams will be an important presidential election issue next year. Voters will remember the unforgettable horror images of rampaging floodwaters, mudslides and landslides. They will remember the pictures of trapped homeowners, destroyed crops, and dead bodies covered with mud. This does not bode well for administration candidates….

No comments: