EDITORIAL – Hard to figure destruction figures
(The Freeman) - December 11, 2014 - 12:00am

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (whose name is as hard to say as it is to predict the precise path a typhoon will take) has placed crop and farmland losses to typhoon Ruby at P1 billion. How it arrived at the figure so quickly boggles the mind. Please take note that this is the very same agency that, as of this writing (2:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 10), could not yet even reconcile its casualty figures with those of other agencies.

Ruby's toll on human lives have been drastically smaller compared to that of Yolanda. While Yolanda killed more than 6,000 people, the death toll from Ruby could be anywhere between eight, the NDRRMC figure when this was written, to 12, which was the figure given by Interior and Local Government secretary Mar Roxas, to 21, the tally provided by the Philippine Red Cross. By the way, the Yolanda tally stopped at 6,000 plus because this very same agency, NDRRMC, stopped counting.

At any rate, with the Ruby death toll being less than 50, it is a wonder what makes it very difficult for the different agencies to reconcile their figures. These are not contentious election results we are tallying. We are just counting the number of people who lost their lives during typhoon Ruby, a number that should be very easy to count considering that it is just below 50.

But wait, if the NDRRMC and other agencies are having such a hard time counting less than 50, how come the NDRRMC had been so quick to peg the damage to crops and farmlands at P1 billion. If the NDRRMC cannot count up to 50, how can it count up to a billion? And even more quickly? How did it arrive at the figure? What is the basis for its arriving at that particular amount? What is the formula it used? Did the NDRRMC even have feet on the ground to make accurate assessments?

And as the mother agency goes, must the surrogate agencies also go? The question is asked because the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council was just as quick in placing the crop and farmland damage at P36 million. Wow, just like that the local council had the figures, just days after Ruby, which did not really hit Cebu head-on.

How did the local council arrive at the figure? Do all the disaster risk reduction and management councils all over the land have a secret formula for arriving at figures in the blink of an eye? If there is such a formula, these councils should share it with other agencies, such as the Comelec. Maybe we can have quicker poll results if the Comelec acquires the secret formula from the disaster councils.

We cannot help, however, from having an icky feeling about this. We suspect the disaster councils are just plucking their figures from thin air. Look, Ruby has not yet even completely left the country and yet we are already told the damage to crops and farms is P1 million. How did the disaster councils know? Did they check on each and every farmland in these 7,100 islands? Or did they just hold a wet finger to the wind?

CEBU CEBU CITY DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL COMELEC DISASTER INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT MAR ROXAS NATIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION AND MANAGEMENT COUNCIL PHILIPPINE RED CROSS RUBY WHILE YOLANDA YOLANDA
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