Aftershocks. Afterthoughts.

Early in October, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Provinces of Bohol, Cebu and several parts of Visayas. Hundreds of people died from the devastation and many more were injured and displaced from their homes. The latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that at the very least 671,103 families were affected and an estimated PhP2.257B of infrastructure were damaged.

A month has barely passed and another natural disaster struck the country, particularly the Visayan region. Last weekend, the Philippines anticipated the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan); various preparations were made—from evacuation centers, rescue operations and relief distributions were already organized by different agencies. But almost all of these were rendered vain by the massive damage Yolanda wrought in just a matter of hours after its landfall.

The latest data from NDRRMC showed that the death toll is now 151, most of these from the Provinces of Leyte and Eastern Samar. The figures are expected to rise as relief and rescue operations continue. At least 9M people in 41 provinces were affected by Yolanda, 630,000 of which are displaced and another 447,000 are staying in 1,645 evacuation centers. Communication lines and transportation remain crippled in most of the affected areas. People have resulted “looting”—most of them apologized and said that the typhoon had stripped them of their dignity. The news had painted a dire situation in these parts of the country and immediate action is needed.

After the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu, the following thoughts, which I previously shared over Facebook, came to mind:
  1. LGUs should be most prepared when disaster strikes. People completely depend on them for their safety. 
  2. The national government through its agencies should take this as a wakeup call. For instance, DRRMOs are not mandatorily created by law, they are integral to immediate rescue/disaster-related ops. Also, LCCAPs aren't maximized. Climate change and DRR are two different things but they're related, I'd like to believe.
  3. If we're serious on heritage site restoration, concerned stakeholders should step up. For example, CBCP should finance the restoration of centuries-old churches in the affected areas.
The same thoughts still hover, except several more factors come into play.
  1. LGUs should still be prepared when disaster strikes and we’ve seen that through several preparations. But when disaster goes on a scale like this, the national government should definitely take over. There is a need to really strengthen our centralized efforts on relief and rescue operations, as well as maintaining law and order in areas devastated by the surge of events. The decision whether to declare martial law in the area or not should be carefully studied as it will have serious implications to those that will be put under it. In simpler terms, placing people under martial law means several rights will be curtailed. It will be better if a state of emergency or calamity will be declared for now. The news of “looting” and “anarchy” could still be managed if proper measures will be placed. Resorting to rash decisions might just make the matters worse for our afflicted fellowmen.
  2. It is high time to make systemic changes on how government deals with climate change mitigation/adaptation and disaster and risk reduction. These are two different things, but they are very much related. The fact that various local governments and national government agencies have procured relief and rescue equipments, established their DRRM offices and their rescue teams and even designated evacuation centers are already good steps. However, we should not stop with this. We must continue educating individuals and their communities on how to make their lifestyles more adaptive to climate change and our country’s proximity to disasters. I am not well-versed on international agreements and protocols on reducing carbon emissions and such, but we know well enough that there is a need for a collective action on this matter.
We may have an “indomitable” and “resilient” human spirit especially when faced with disasters like these, but a lot of have Filipinos died already—Sendong, Pablo, Ondoy, Reming and now, Yolanda. Wouldn’t it be better if that human spirit was also used to prevent further catastrophic damages in the near future because we made conscious efforts to prepare and take action on climate change? We may not be able to completely stop typhoons, flash floods and earthquakes from happening, but at the very least, we come prepared. Initial government, non-government and community efforts were already made; we just have to continue that stride towards a more adaptive archipelago.

For those who would want to help the victims of Yolanda, you may direct it through these efforts compiled by Rappler.

Let us continue to pray for our fellow people. And yes, let’s stop the bickering, it does not add anything to help.

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felix felicis: Aftershocks. Afterthoughts.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Aftershocks. Afterthoughts.

Early in October, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Provinces of Bohol, Cebu and several parts of Visayas. Hundreds of people died from the devastation and many more were injured and displaced from their homes. The latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that at the very least 671,103 families were affected and an estimated PhP2.257B of infrastructure were damaged.

A month has barely passed and another natural disaster struck the country, particularly the Visayan region. Last weekend, the Philippines anticipated the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan); various preparations were made—from evacuation centers, rescue operations and relief distributions were already organized by different agencies. But almost all of these were rendered vain by the massive damage Yolanda wrought in just a matter of hours after its landfall.

The latest data from NDRRMC showed that the death toll is now 151, most of these from the Provinces of Leyte and Eastern Samar. The figures are expected to rise as relief and rescue operations continue. At least 9M people in 41 provinces were affected by Yolanda, 630,000 of which are displaced and another 447,000 are staying in 1,645 evacuation centers. Communication lines and transportation remain crippled in most of the affected areas. People have resulted “looting”—most of them apologized and said that the typhoon had stripped them of their dignity. The news had painted a dire situation in these parts of the country and immediate action is needed.

After the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu, the following thoughts, which I previously shared over Facebook, came to mind:
  1. LGUs should be most prepared when disaster strikes. People completely depend on them for their safety. 
  2. The national government through its agencies should take this as a wakeup call. For instance, DRRMOs are not mandatorily created by law, they are integral to immediate rescue/disaster-related ops. Also, LCCAPs aren't maximized. Climate change and DRR are two different things but they're related, I'd like to believe.
  3. If we're serious on heritage site restoration, concerned stakeholders should step up. For example, CBCP should finance the restoration of centuries-old churches in the affected areas.
The same thoughts still hover, except several more factors come into play.
  1. LGUs should still be prepared when disaster strikes and we’ve seen that through several preparations. But when disaster goes on a scale like this, the national government should definitely take over. There is a need to really strengthen our centralized efforts on relief and rescue operations, as well as maintaining law and order in areas devastated by the surge of events. The decision whether to declare martial law in the area or not should be carefully studied as it will have serious implications to those that will be put under it. In simpler terms, placing people under martial law means several rights will be curtailed. It will be better if a state of emergency or calamity will be declared for now. The news of “looting” and “anarchy” could still be managed if proper measures will be placed. Resorting to rash decisions might just make the matters worse for our afflicted fellowmen.
  2. It is high time to make systemic changes on how government deals with climate change mitigation/adaptation and disaster and risk reduction. These are two different things, but they are very much related. The fact that various local governments and national government agencies have procured relief and rescue equipments, established their DRRM offices and their rescue teams and even designated evacuation centers are already good steps. However, we should not stop with this. We must continue educating individuals and their communities on how to make their lifestyles more adaptive to climate change and our country’s proximity to disasters. I am not well-versed on international agreements and protocols on reducing carbon emissions and such, but we know well enough that there is a need for a collective action on this matter.
We may have an “indomitable” and “resilient” human spirit especially when faced with disasters like these, but a lot of have Filipinos died already—Sendong, Pablo, Ondoy, Reming and now, Yolanda. Wouldn’t it be better if that human spirit was also used to prevent further catastrophic damages in the near future because we made conscious efforts to prepare and take action on climate change? We may not be able to completely stop typhoons, flash floods and earthquakes from happening, but at the very least, we come prepared. Initial government, non-government and community efforts were already made; we just have to continue that stride towards a more adaptive archipelago.

For those who would want to help the victims of Yolanda, you may direct it through these efforts compiled by Rappler.

Let us continue to pray for our fellow people. And yes, let’s stop the bickering, it does not add anything to help.

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