EDITORIAL - Separate entity to manage calamities needed

The Freeman

Calamities, both natural and man-made, are always waiting to strike. And when they strike, they do not choose their victims. But let this not delude anyone into believing that calamities are a great leveler. True they may strike anyone - rich, old, poor, young - but it is always the most vulnerable among us who get to suffer the consequences of calamities the most.

Some people are simply better prepared and better equipped to rise and rebuild their lives after each and every calamity. On the other hand, there are those who simply cannot afford to suffer a single one. And yet it is the latter that we see so many of, who suffer so often. And the greatest tragedy of all is that, In a burgeoning metropolis like Cebu, there is no realistic policy or program meant to address the situation.

In cases of fire, for example, the main thrust of the city government is to provide meals. Now, that in itself will suffice, but only until the next meal time. In other words, such a response, while needed, is not really something that addresses a real need. In fact, in the case of shelter, the immediate recourse is to allow the use of schools as evacuation centers, in the process seriously disrupting the badly-needed education of children.

Beyond packed lunches and bedding provisions in schools, there is scant little by way of a lasting and effective response to such types of calamities. There is even no counselling done to address the psychological effects of traumatic experiences on their victims. Perhaps the only medical response in this regard is the taking of blood pressure and the treatment of wounds and diarrhea.

As a leading city in the country, Cebu City should have a dedicated department, agency, unit or whatever entity whose only reason for being is to address the problems posed by victims of disasters and calamities, as well as communities under constant threat thereof. That way, the city can truly have a realistic policy to rely on and not have to be rattled and just make do in times of emergencies.

If the city can think of doing something frivolous such as giving cash aid to almost every sector it can think of, maybe it can really do something about a problem that is staring it in the face, seen but unrecognized, like an elephant in the room. There is no escaping this problem and the sooner the city comes to term with it, the better.

Maybe it is time the character of city governance gets a facelift. And maybe it starts with the election of people who are sincere in thinking of ways to serve instead of serving their own political interests. Right now, the only thing moving at City Hall is political posturing. Whether politicians swing to the right or to the left, you can be sure it is in response to some inscrutable political itch.

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