Double-barreled plague-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
AS 2013 elections approach, ordinary Cebuanos fret: Will our options be again strait-jacketed between Barrabas or Barrabas?
Exchanges between Mayor Mike Rama and would-be-mayor Rep. Tomas Osmeña are fishmonger diatribe. Poll timetables merely jacked up the shrillness.
Now, pretenses at “debate on good governance policies” are scrapped. The core issue is: “Who is the bigger jerk?”
Yesterday, they brawled over a lapdog city council’s measure to handcuff the mayor from selling South Road Properties (SRP). Already in the Local Government Code, Rama bristled.
Osmeña today chortles over Rama being “hoisted on his own petard”--to swipe a line from Shakeseapere. Rama signed an ordinance that’d lock up SRP lots which he earlier vowed to veto. That’s grist for political jockeys.
But ordinary Cebuanos are stunned by storm-cum-floods that devastated 144 towns, 31 cities in 16 Luzon provinces this month. If the next storm barrels into Cebu, are we ready, they ask.
Look at the track record. In December 1951, Tyhoon “Amy” slammed Cebu with 240 kilometer winds, killing 991. In November 1990, Typhoon “Ruping” caused 748 deaths. Its 220 kilometer-perhour gusts wrecked P10.8 billion of property. Too far to recall?
Try this about Typhoon “Sendong” last year. Instead of hitting Cebu, it swerved and barreled into Cagayan-Iligan. Ten hours of torrential rains saw flood waters rise by 11 feet in less than an hour. Many were washed away to sea. So, there was no final death count. More than 2,000 people were rescued and damage crested at P2.068 billion.
Osmeña never had a disaster response program. Rama has the perfect excuse: The council hasn’t funded one.
“Many places in Cebu are ‘disasters waiting to happen,’” UN awardee Alfredo Arquillano told Sun.Star. “The floods that devastated Metro Manila can happen in Cebu. Recognized for his work on disaster risk reduction, the vice mayor of San Francisco, Camotes island, stressed: the issue is protecting lives and property. “Climate change is real. It is happening.”
“Investments” in an integrated drainage system and management of solid waste were needed, he added. The Mega Cebu--an initiative by citizen groups and 13 Metro Cebu governments-project is a good start.
“Cebu needs ‘a lot of fixing,’” Cebu Business Club president Gordon “Dondi” Joseph said earlier. International surveys of Asia’s livable cities show “Cebu reduced quality of life index. It has the highest poverty incidence.”
We lagged behind Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, lodged at slot 302. Phnom Penh in Cambodia ranked 415. Even Yangoon, beat Cebu by a whisker at slot 446.
Cebu must re-invent itself, as weather events become more extreme, cautions ““Business Risk Assessment and Management of Climate Change Impacts.” Published by Bank of the Philippine Islands Foundation and World Wild Life Philippines, this new analysis peers 30 years into the future.
Despite many assets, Cebu is tailender in human development. Landslides are severe and 23 of 80 barangays encroach on watersheds. El Niño, rising levels of ever-warmer seas, severe rainfall interlocking with prolonged drought, shatter predictability.
Cebu’s leaders must look “beyond its fences.” They should forge new directions that lead to global integration in a climatedefined future. Effective governance and water resources management are critical.
Dying in a Veronese gutter, Mercutio screams in “Romeo and Juliet what many Cebuanos feel about their bickering leaders: “A plague on both your houses.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2012.