Sys­tem vs. val­ues

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION - LORENZO E. MEN­DOZA

Just re­cently, the re­gion was not spared with the risk of the nat­u­ral dis­as­ters that now be­come com­mon phe­nom­ena through­out the coun­try given our lo­ca­tion as part of the ring of fire in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion.

The so­cial me­dia Face­book was filled with sta­tus of the re­cent 7.2 earth­quake and the flood­ing cause by in­ter­mit­tent rains due to the trough of low pres­sure area that hit the re­gion prompt­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment units to sus­pend classes and lo­cal ex­ec­u­tives and DepEd of­fi­cials is­su­ing warn­ing to low ly­ing ar­eas and those land­slide prone lo­ca­tions to take ex­tra care and ex­e­cute pre­emp­tive evac­u­a­tion to abate in­juries and ca­su­al­ties.

It was also dur­ing the on­slaught of trop­i­cal de­pres­sion “Us­man,” that DepEd Sec­re­tary Leonor M. Bri­ones em­pha­sized that it is high time for the gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic to trans­form the coun­try’s ap­proach to the re­duc­tion and man­age­ment of dis­as­ter risks in the face of a con­tin­u­ously chang­ing cli­mate.

Sec. Bri­ones said that in pre­vi­ous years, DepEd schools were dam­aged by strong winds brought about by trop­i­cal cy­clones that made us busy pre­par­ing for the per­fect storm while in Metro Manila for the per­fect earth­quake. She said that nowa­days, we need to bet­ter pre­pare for the per­fect flood.

The Sec­re­tary pre­sented the emerg­ing chal­lenges in dis­as­ter risk re­duc­tion and mit­i­ga­tion be­fore fel­low mem­bers of the Cab­i­net dur­ing a sit­u­a­tion brief­ing last Jan­uary 4 in Pili, Ca­marines Sur. Bri­ones said that al­though “Us­man” was tech­ni­cally de­scribed as a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion, its re­sult­ing floods and land­slides left ex­ten­sive dam­age to school build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties in af­fected ar­eas.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Chief re­marked that re­pair and re­place­ment of dam­aged fa­cil­i­ties due to re­cent ty­phoon “Us­man,” last year’s ty­phoon “Om­pong,” and ty­phoon “Rosita” are es­ti­mated to ex­haust DepEd’s en­tire P2-bil­lion Quick Re­sponse Fund (QRF) for 2019. She fur­ther em­pha­sized that such dam­age de­mands huge bud­get for slope pro­tec­tion, higher el­e­va­tion, or trans­fer of build­ing sites. What is adding to the prob­lem of DepEd is that it has funds for site ti­tling but none for site ac­qui­si­tion.

Fur­ther­more, as floods and land­slides oc­cur with ev­ery ty­phoons and bad weather con­di­tions these re­sulted to se­vere dam­age to prop­erty, fa­cil­i­ties, and equip­ment even with­out strong winds as mea­sured by warn­ing sys­tem. With this, the Sec­re­tary also called on the Cab­i­net to con­sider the pol­icy im­pli­ca­tion of this ir­re­versible trend and make the nec­es­sary rec­om­men­da­tions to the Pres­i­dent.

The Sec­re­tary men­tioned that said ill-fated in­ci­dents hap­pened in Guin­saugon [South­ern Leyte], Bili­ran, Leyte, Que­zon, Los Baños [La­guna], Ca­gayan de Oro, and Ili­gan, as well as in Lanao del Norte, among

oth­ers.

In the said meet­ing, the Sec­re­tary fur­ther pro­posed the re­view of pro­to­cols for gov­ern­ment ac­tion be­fore, dur­ing, and after nat­u­ral dis­as­ters – case in point is the pub­lic mind­set of re­ly­ing on ty­phoon sig­nals as ba­sis for as­sess­ing po­ten­tial dan­ger to life and prop­erty, which needs to be cor­rected through sus­tained pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ed­u­ca­tion.

Bri­ones is also among those cab­i­net mem­bers who sup­port the need to re­visit the progress on the pro­posed cre­ation of a sep­a­rate depart­ment on nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

The Sec­re­tary con­cluded that the fi­nan­cial, or­ga­ni­za­tional, and ad­min­is­tra­tive re­quire­ments for deal­ing with nat­u­ral dis­as­ters can­not be man­aged by the gov­ern­ment alone. She em­pha­sized that all sec­tors of so­ci­ety have to be mo­bi­lized and ac­ti­vated to help en­sure the safety of lives and the con­ti­nu­ity of ed­u­ca­tion.

This Cor­ner hopes that ev­ery­one shall do his part in pur­su­ing a more com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach to var­i­ous dis­as­ters so that dam­age to peo­ple and prop­er­ties will be min­i­mized or even erad­i­cated.

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