Learning from experience
() - June 1, 2007 - 12:00am

Summer is officially over as the rainy season comes to a start. While the rains are supposed to be a welcome respite from weeks of scorching sun heat, it brings to mind again the perennial problem of flooding in most parts of the country especially in urban centers like Metro Manila. Clogged drainage systems, improper garbage disposal and the likes are often pointed out as culprits as to why areas like Metro Manila are immediately put underwater with just little drops of rain. More than these however, there is a need to answer the question as to why it has been years since such reasons behind flooding were identified and yet they continue to be tagged as the causes up to this very day?

With the start of the rainy season, typhoons are not far behind. Last year, the country has again witnessed massive destruction caused by these weather phenomena. Damages amounted to nearly P20 billion, victims and affected families and individuals were in millions (2.3 million families or 11 million displaced persons). Landslides (i.e. Guinsaugon), flash floods and mudflows (i.e. Bicol Region) were the morbid highlights of 2006. Many of those that were affected by last year’s typhoons are still struggling to recover but are yet again threatened to face the same dilemma all over again this year. In Bicol Region for instance, 500,000 families or at least 2.5 million persons were affected, 695 persons were reported dead and nearly 600 others missing during the onslaught of Typhoon Reming, and schools at present remain to be homes to hundreds of families displaced by the typhoon, considering that classes are to start in a matter of days. Likewise, evacuation plans are needed in areas where lahar flows may possibly occur due to the recent volcanic activities of Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon, Marinduque, Mindoro and other places greatly affected by last year’s typhoons and floods are still trying to recuperate.

Year in and year out, such events have been a cycle in the country. The government’s allocation of a bigger calamity fund for this year, compared to last year’s measly 0.1% allocation from the national budget, is a welcome news. More than the issue of funding, however, there is a need to come up with a more comprehensive and long term program on disaster management through addressing the roots of people’s vulnerabilities and strengthening communities’ capacities. Knee-jerk reactions to disaster management have been tried, tested, and proven futile in a country considered to be one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. — AUNARIO S. LUCERO Jr., Public Information and Advocacy Officer, Citizens’ Disaster Response Center, Inc.

BICOL REGION DISASTER RESPONSE CENTER IN BICOL REGION METRO MANILA PUBLIC INFORMATION AND ADVOCACY OFFICER TYPHOON REMING YEAR
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