‘Henry,’ Tribunalo and C3

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Thursday, July 17, 2014


AFTER typhoon Glenda, the weather bureau Pagasa is now monitoring the movement of “Henry.”

Actually, there’s no typhoon Henry yet, but Pagasa said another weather disturbance might “directly affect” the country. It’s labeled a low pressure area (LPA) but it has the potential of strengthening into a tropical depression as it enters the Philippe area of responsibility (PAR). If that happens, it will be called Henry.

What does this make of our country? The analogy would be that of a boxer trapped against the ropes by an opponent who is unleashing boxing combinations a-la Manny Pacquiao. Glenda was the left hook and “Henry” could be the uppercut. The boxer has to cover himself up well.

At the Capitol, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. has admitted that President Noynoy Aquino has still to release the funds for the rehabilitation of Yolanda-hit northern Cebu.

Yolanda battered the area in November. The first anniversary of the super typhoon’s visit is therefore only around four months away. And Malacañang still haven’t released the money? When Glenda struck, the weather bureau at one time raised signal no. 1 for northern Cebu. What if another typhoon scores a direct hit there?

Tribunalo said, though, that rehab projects are being implemented in northern Cebu---but these are being initiated by the private sector and regional offices of national government agencies. But what about the province? Does this mean it is too dependent on manna from Malacañang? Didn’t Gov. Hilario Davide III say Capitol is not lacking in funds?

Which brings me to the matter of creativity. The test of a leader is not when he is awash with cash to spend for worthwhile projects. Rather, it is when cash is limited and he is forced to find ways to go around that limitation. For example, was help from the private sector and foreign entities maximized and priorities at the macro level outlined?

By the way, my thinking is that disaster preparedness is being incorporated into the overall rehabilitation effort. But how strictly was the no-build zones near the shorelines enforced? Did the rebuilt structures follow storm-proof designs?

Meanwhile, Cebu City officials are boasting of its C3. No, it’s not a variation of the sugary drink C2 but is the acronym for Command Control Center, which supposedly has “sophisticated and hi-tech” equipment that would determine the intensity of earthquakes and measure wind gusts, velocity of rain drops and humidity.

So C3 is not only functioning as a local version of Pagasa but also as the local counterpart of Phivolcs, aside from its being a monitoring center for other concerns like traffic, criminality, garbage, etc. But this is not only about sophisticated equipment but also about expertise and adequacy of personnel.

Also, a command center is more about response. What about disaster preparedness?

Before C3 came about, Mayor Michael Rama talked about reducing danger zones. But the last time I looked, zones that were dangerous before (prone to flooding) are still dangerous now. Waterways that were obstructed before are still being obstructed now.

I also remember city officials talk about pinpointing safer evacuation centers in case typhoons visit. By “safer” they must mean structures that can withstand more than 250 kph winds and which can’t be overwhelmed by floods and storm surges. Where are these evacuation centers located?

If you ask me, our kind of governance has remained the same. Government officials are like the owner of a house whose roof is full of holes. Every time the owner is asked why he hasn’t repaired the roof, he would answer in Cebuano: “Motulo ra bitaw na’g mag-uwan.”

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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