THE news media, thank God, are not letting their audiences forget that disasters of the scale of last November’s tsunami-like Yolanda could hit us in the Philippines this year, next and forever.
At this writing, the news is that the death toll has risen to 24 because of low pressure area (LPA) rains, and consequently landslides, in Mindanao.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) at 7 pm Wednesday said it has received reports of at least 13 landslide incidents and five flash flood incidents in Mindanao. Intermittent rains since Friday Jan. 10 have hurt at least 62,982 families or 299,351 people and made 70 roads and 32 bridges impassable. Totally destroyed were 235 houses and 375 others damaged by these weather-caused disasters.
As a result the government has declared that a state of calamity exists in Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte; Kapalong, Carmen, Asuncion, New Corella and Tagum City in Davao del Norte; Sta. Josefa and Sibagat in Agusan del Sur; and Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
Pagasa, the state weather agency, said on Wednesday that this LPA is now more likely to intensify into a tropical cyclone.
What’s happening in Mindanao right now is not a big deal to those not suffering from the disaster —and if one compares it to the deaths and destruction Yolanda caused in the Visayas.
But we must not forget that Yolanda (known as Haiyan internationally) was our planet’s most powerful typhoon in modern recorded history. And we must remember that such weather-disturbance caused calamities, like Ondoy and Pepeng, and the more recent earthquakes in Bohol and Cebu, have also been major catastrophic events.
That the Mindanao LPA-caused disasters are “not such a big deal” must not make us think that we, the citizenry, and the government—in the national as well as the local, including the barangay, level—can afford to relax and forget about preparedness against disasters and working to ensure that our risk are greatly reduced.
RRM and combating the electricity lords’ greed
Our work of risk reduction and risk management (RRM) is as important as the work of combating the greed of the corporations that control the supply and distribution of electric power to households, schools, hospitals and small and medium size businesses and industries.
That is why we in The Manila Times will not stop exposing the conspiracy and collusion among the these lords of electricity. And we will press for the punishment of those responsible for the criminal approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Department of Energy of the electricity corporations’ moves to amass astronomical profits while tormenting ordinary Filipinos.
From the standpoint of making ours a strong and prosperous nation, both the work of maintaining preparedness against disasters, reducing and managing our risks and of bringing down the price of electric power—which has become one of the world’s highest—should be treated as the topmost priorities of the Aquino administration.
All of us Filipinos should also treat both as life and death matters for our families.