Heroes, calamities

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Thursday, December 6, 2012


CALAMITIES bring out the heroes in us, so asserted a Cebuano leader who had once gone through one of the worst calamities this province had experienced. At the time the assertion was made, there was nothing the old folks then could compare with the force and ferocity that typhoon Ruping held Cebu in 1990.

Indeed, the statement of former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña packs a sterling truth about people with unusual courage. This distinguishes them from ordinary men. I believe, though, that one is not chosen, he is picked on the spot, and placed in a situation where he is forced to do what he has to do in order for him and those who looked up to him to survive or perish.

Osmeña was barely two years in his position as governor when Ruping lashed at Cebu.

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The governor was planning then to construct a trans-central highway going to Balamban.

But former governor Eddie Gullas learned from one engineer that eight bridges was needed for the project. That would cost the government enormous sum of money. But Osmeña promised to build the trans-central highwat without a bridge.

I learned later that, for days, Guv Lito hired a small plane and flew over the central mountains between Balamban and Cebu City to find a way to build a road on the mountain ridges without constructing a bridge.

I once flew on a helicopter to Barangay Gaas, right in the center between Cebu City and Balamban, where the link between city and town was to be made. But there was another occasion at that time, the burning of stalks of marijuana worth millions of pesos planted in a protected place on top of one of the ridges.

Anyway, when Typhoon Ruping hit Cebu, the governor may have winced at what happened, but according to him, he was fortunate that he had the cooperation of all Cebuanos.

With the power lines knocked down, the water system destroyed in most of the province, and its infrastructure generally led asunder, he had to act somehow to restore Cebu on its feet.

Cebu was practically on its own then, with links outside practically cut off by the general destruction that downed communications lines and airports closed.

Governor Lito acted in the manner of the man on the spot. He said, “So, I had to take extra legal means.” What he did, he revealed later, was to declare the entire Cebu “in a state of calamity,” something that only the President can do but which he did then.

It was a decision that had to be done, and one should have to do it without fear of its consequence.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 07, 2012.

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