RAIN fell in some parts of Metro Cebu yesterday, giving Cebuanos a momentary respite from the long dry spell caused by El Niño. But the weather bureau Pagasa immediately came up with a dampener by noting that the rain did not, by any means, signify that the dry spell is over. The forecast is even that next month would be the hottest month this year.
But rain did fall intermittently in limited areas the last few days, one of which caused a landslide that killed two children. Ian Vanlor Lumapas Jr. and his brother Jacob died after rain water loosened the already cracked slope and caused a landslide in Sitio Inmaculada, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.
The reaction of the government was predictable. Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) checked the place, something that should have been done before the incident happened. Neighbors of Mitos Basak and Ian Vanlor Lumapas Sr., the boys' parents, told reporters that the family had been hauling and selling limestone since sometime in 2010 yet.
Cebu City Hall will give P10,000 to the family and pay for the boys’ caskets, said Councilor Dave Tumulak. Interestingly, Tumulak is also presiding officer of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC). But while he did warn those who are living near slopes to be vigilant against landslides to prevent a repeat of what happened in Lahug, he and other government officials should be reminded of the broader view.
Pagasa expects the onset of the rainy season and the possible end of El Niño in June. That's more than a month away. This sounds late already but government still has time to do what it should have done at the onset of the dry spell, and this is to prepare for what the rains will bring.
Landslide is one of them. Concerned government agencies should start checking areas where these are most likely to occur when the rains fall and issue warnings. Flooding is another. Again, concerned government agencies should survey the waterways and, if needed widen and clear them while they are still dry.
Foresight means preparing to deal with rain-caused problems in the middle of a dry spell.