Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mora: On dummies and whipping boys

Rat’s Brain

YEARS ago when I was employed, I would often have coffee with the upper management of the company. Part of the perks of being the top sales performer and way back then, a longing for office gossip and intrigues. On one occasion, the topic revolved around the favorite whipping boy of the company, and after quite a number of laughs, one suggested that the colleague be fired. And to which another objected to. When asked why, he replied, “If he goes, then the boss will certainly look at us instead. Let him stay and be the whipping boy of the company.” It did not take long for me to make myself scarce to that regular coffee at the executive lounge. How men and women below are simply pawns, to absorb the incompetence of the powerful and those within the inner circle.

So we wonder that despite the obvious incompetency of an appointee, they are not taken to task by their appointing power. Be it traffic management, our public markets and the latest revelation that one of the most competitive city in the country does not have a drainage plan would certainly have caused a revolution on the streets. But no. That Kagayanon’s will be on harms way always whenever there will be heavy and continuous rains points at that obvious but previous unadmitted fact. Cagayan de Oro has been built, developed and managed to be flood-prone.

Then the belated admission that there was one. A feasibility study prepared by a group from the University of the Philippines. And I wonder if that study, presented by the City Engineer bearing the logo of the Department of Public Works and Highways included the inutile and flood-aggravating raising of parts of Kauswagan Highway and CM Recto Highway. What is the response of the Engineering Department of another esteemed University of Science and Technology of the Philippines, whose administrators, faculty and students bear the brunt of another infrastructure folly.

I am at awe with engineers. I expect them to be clear-sighted, good managers and possess more than the usual amount of common sense and logic. Take two barangay roads in Kauswagan. One was paved in concrete while the other one was not, but had drainage canals on both sides. When it rains, the residents who lived on the the paved road enjoyed the convenience of clean street while the ones living on the unpaved roads found their shoes muddied. But the homes along the paved roods would be flooded but the ones with canals were not. And it therefore does not take much brain to know that when one develops raw land, one reverses the absorptive capacity of the soil to rain, and the best thing to start with is to create canals and drainage for the excess water to flow to natural waterways. But that is not what happens. And so we wonder if the one who paved the road was an engineer or a vote-buying politico. Your guess is as good as mine.

So everyone says that most of our downtown development was built on swampy land. One was even built on a flood drain. Dayon? Count the number of furniture shops opening and one can easily conclude that our city is indeed in a frenzy of urban development. Which is of course unmatched by our capacity to absorb, especially given the propensity of granting building permits to multi-story structures with no ample parking. And so that it is now out in the open that our very engineers have not put a plan for drainage nor given ample validation by other experts and our very own local government, what now? Build uptown? No. And neither will it be acceptable to say that flooding also happens in Japan. For it is not impossible to be better than Japan.