The best and the worst
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - January 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Disasters bring out the best or worst in people. Through various calamities and emergencies that confronted people in various parts of our country and the world, we have witnessed shining moments among the sterling. Thank God for the selfless and God-centered who inspire in the midst of challenges.

Voluntarism among so many people is clearing the dark, dangerous smoke and eruption threatening the affected in Taal.

A number have opened their homes to evacuees. They have not only provided food, drinks, and comfortable space for the troubled among the affected. They inspire so many others with their compassionate concern and care for the evacuees.

There are those who have offered free masks. This simple, kind act puts to shame the dishonest and abusive who hiked the selling price of the much-needed masks. How can some still think of taking advantage of those in need and whose lives have been threatened by Taal? Sadly, profit and money have certainly attracted the greedy to take the path of evil.

There are those who have offered other free items. Water, food, vegetables from our growers from Benguet. While Taal has sent thousands away from their homes, at the same time, Taal has brought together so many from other provinces and other countries all throughout the world as one whole family aiding one another during times of crisis.

What a beautiful testimony to the best among human beings! What beautiful bayanihan despite the ongoing possible threat of a huge, hazardous eruption!

The present eruption has also exposed the continuing challenge to more effectively manage disasters in our country. So much remains to be done, so much work and preparation urgently needed to spare people from harm, pain, grief, and despair.

And oh yes, disaster management should also include animals so loved and treasured by their owners. We have seen so many Taal residents willing to risk their lives to return to save their horses, carabaos, dogs they consider as family. Disaster management policy and programs should include the protection and saving of animals as well.

When the Taal eruption started, I told a number of civil society partners that our disaster management policy did not seem to cover volcanic eruptions which are not as frequent as fires, floods, typhoons, and earthquakes. The optimistic among our group said preparations for eruptions are part of disaster management protocol.

Sadly, the plight of the Taal eruption evacuees at present is showing us how inadequate and unprepared our national and local government are in responding to the needs of our people and the ongoing emergency.

The scientists have been doing their part in monitoring Taal. Government should have prepared for various eruption scenarios --what to do, what to prepare for, how to mobilize and protect people and animals. Government should have ensured funds for state-of-the-art technology and systems to support our scientists monitoring eruptions and other disasters.

We commend the dedicated scientists who have remained in the country despite the lack of incentives and rewards for their work. We also commend the volunteers and donors who have generously given what they can share with the affected. To the military and police assigned even to hazardous areas, our heartfelt thanks and prayers.

We call out the selfish, greedy government officials who stole billions from the calamity funds. Have you seen House Representatives in the affected areas? Did any of these representative give up their pork barrel for the disaster victims? Shame on these useless parasites!

Filipinos should demand an immediate freeze on pork barrel or even the closure of Congress so that funds can be used for the truly deserving among our people.

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