Moments of Readiness-A A +A
At Close Range
Thursday, August 9, 2012
AN ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Probably more. With this quote, Mabalacat City Mayor Marino "Boking" Morales has set guidelines in handling crisis situations and in the face of calamities. He has reasons to dilly dally but he does not. Instead, he wakes up early, assesses the situation at hand, and calls the local radio stations and his disaster management team to ascertain its preparedness and adequacy of emergency materials and supplies.
Although Mabalacat City has a higher elevation than Angeles and San Fernando cities and most areas in Pampanga, Mayor Boking does not leave anything to chance or risk as he admonishes those living near rivers or creeks to leave and go to higher grounds. To do this, he marshals the city's Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Bernie Relles to personally see to it that affected families do heed warnings and follow instructions to move to safer places.
Ditto with Governor Lilia "Nanay Baby" Pineda who had been up and about this week and week previous when the weather disturbance started to wreak havoc on several towns in Pampanga. She is physically present at disaster centers as she oversees rescue operations including instituting patching up measures and sandbagging portions of dikes nearing breaching point as that tail dike in the Minalin-Bacolor stretch. When the temporary intervention does not stem the tide of destruction by floodwaters, she frantically calls support teams, including radio stations to enjoin residents to move to safe and higher areas.
Every local official, it seems, was visible. Each was reported to pitch in to the emergency, as expected of a public servant. Rescuers worked to the bones and rendered aid without wincing and acted in the manner praiseworthy and commendable.
Flooding at NLEX. It was unusual to hear and see even the most modern of road arteries to get swamped by floodwaters, causing traffic jams, lost manhours and revenues and opportunities. Did the people behind the construction factor the presence of Tullahan river from which rainwaters may come when it overflows? Didn't the NLEX have adequate drainage system? Then why the overflow?
Complaints are poised to be filed by the local government unit of Mabalacat City against the Philippine Children's Fund of America, a US-registered foundation represented here in the Philippines by Erik Gomez and Roman Goce. This project is locally known as Paradise Ranch and is situated at Sitio Monicayo, Barangay Calumpang, Mabalacat City.
For some time, this resort facility has been religiously paying its taxes due and permits to operate to the then municipality of Mabalacat.
All of a sudden, for reasons known only to Gomez and Goce, Paradise Ranch has switched allegiance to the town of Bamban (in the province of Tarlac), wrongly assuming that Barangay Calumpang now is under and within the jurisdiction of Tarlac, this, despite the unresolved boundary dispute between the then municipality of Mabalacat and the town of Bamban. The status quo pronouncement of Senator Bongbong Marcos was not apparently recognized, followed and respected by Gomez, and Goce and by implication, the mayor of Bamban, the governor of Tarlac and some members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Tarlac who, by the way, were present in the Senate hearing for the city hood bid of Mabalacat and yet, they seem to ignore the status quo.
As it is, the officials of the local government units of Bamban andTarlac might have taken the manifestations of Gomez and Goce hook, line and sinker without researching the facts of the controversy and without giving even the basic courtesy to Mayor Boking Morales of neighboring Mabalacat City. The PCFA is supposed to be a foundation with preconditions to fulfill for the indigenous people in Barangay Calumpang but I heard it has failed to deliver on the prestations. I will discuss in my next column some ramifications on this issue.
The letter to the Editor of one Honorato Galura (PDI, August 7, 2012) negates the prompt action of the SSS Angeles Branch head Laura Mariano and staff on matters of claims brought to the branch for processing and disposition.
I personally know the dispatch with which Laura, now retired, and staff put on every claim submitted to them as she meticulously goes over each document purportedly in support of such claim and she does not mince words in commenting on deficiencies or disparities noted on each submitted document.
I was surprised therefore to read Galura's letter complaining of the delay (for 2 years, according to him) in the release of the death benefit. And the reasons for the rejection of the claim? Based on the submitted document, there was a different designated wife and children and the claimant cannot prove if the deceased is one and the same person as that who owns the SSS number! The deceased's heirs even registered their complaint with the higher officials at SSS main office but still they cannot prove if the number really and unequivocally belongs to the deceased. Of course, such discrepancies merit rejection of claim. It is to the credit of Laura Mariano that she has rendered an unblemished service record and remains upright and her integrity untarnished. I just hope her successor follows in the same manner.
SM supermalls are living up to their corporate social responsibility even during weather disturbances. At SM City San Fernando, people were given sanctuary at the height of the floodwaters rampage and there cared for by the mall's officials and workers. This noble gesture should merit praise and gratitude instead of being censured for not heeding the "No work" announcement by Malacanang. SM opened its doors despite the work stoppage to cater to the daily needs of residents. There is nothing violative of this action; instead, it complements the local government unit's efforts to provide relief to its constituents. SM malls operate not solely for profit but for community immersion as well. I learned it was the same situation in SM Olongapo which also warmly welcomed residents therein. It might as well be the same in other SM malls in the country. Ok ba, good friend Bien Mateo? Thanks to Ana and Mark of SM City Clark for their warm reception last Wednesday.
I extend my kudos to Angeles City Mayor Edgardo "EdPam" Pamintuan and the Angeles City Anti Drug Abuse Council, the latter for having been selected as "one of the best anti drug abuse councils among the LGUs in the country due to its outstanding accomplishments and performance in combating the drug problem in the city through a prevention and control strategy".
With this latest accolade, Mayor Ed has shown his exemplary control over his city's overall operations and moral ascendancy over his work force and constituents. He is good governance and performance personified and needs more time and mandate to improve on other aspects of his city's operations.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 10, 2012.