When my friend, former schoolmate, newspaper colleague and now honorable Congressman Ben Evardone assumed his duties as a lone representative of Eastern Samar in 2010, he and his staff drafted a House resolution calling for a close examination of the country’s disaster risk-reduction program.
Evardone found the matter urgent as he recognized the growing frequency and pattern of occurrence of natural disasters here and overseas. Early in 2011 the New Zealand earthquake hit the headlines, followed by a devastating tsunami in Japan.
While we were appalled by the extent of the damage wrought by nature, we witnessed the swift and decisive action of the foreign authorities to respond and rise to the challenge of the occasion in their respective countries.
From our point of view, we could not help but wonder how our man-made environ could have withstood a stronger quake and bigger tsunami. We were totally devastated in Metro Manila and nearby provinces and we have been hit by tsunami in Mindanao decades ago.
Anything could happen at any time.
That is why Evardone filed such a resolution. Of course, there must have been similar House resolutions that ended in the dead file of the Congress.
The resolution called for the assessment of safety conditions of public infrastructure and installations and a review building standards and regulations.
It also called for the upgrade of the country’s “search-and rescue” capabilities, and the improvement of seismological technology to forecast any probability of high-intensity earthquakes and tsunami.
In the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude tremor that shook Bohol island province and super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), I could not but be anxious about the possibility of these natural disasters striking in more populous areas.
I would wish to see a more sincere sense of urgency on the part of our leaders to proactively put in place solutions before anything else happens.
And, I would like to believe that the same concerns raised in Evardone’s resolution are addressed in the government’s P167.9 billion “Master Plan” for the typhoon-ravaged localities in the Visayas.
Almost one year in the making, the so-called Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) is touted to provide permanent resettlement, needed infrastructure such as schools, livelihood opportunities and the all-important social services.
I would have been happy to see some, if not all, of our kababayans resettled other than nestled at same danger zones with only pitched tarpaulins over their heads.
I would have been joyous to see President Aquino join the hardest-hit Taclobanons on November 8 in remembrance of those who perished on that fateful day a year ago.
I would have like to see his leadership in a few minutes of prayerful humility and reconciliation among his suffering “bosses,” casting aside politics.
If it’s any consolation, PNoy went for photo ops in Guian, Eastern Samar, my dear friend Evardone’s home province.
I would by then be exceedingly glad to at least see this P167.9 billion master plan should take shape before the 2016 presidential elections.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and pray this administration will finally work for the people in its final two years in office.