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Opinion

Five heroes of Bulacan

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

The five Bulacan rescuers who perished at the height of typhoon Karding should rightfully be honored. The Senate proposed to give them the highest honors. The heroes are Jerson Resureccion, George Agustin, Troy Justin Agustin, Narciso Calayag Jr., and Marby Bartolome. The nation mourns and sympathizes with their respective families.

They didn't think about the danger they would face in leaving the safety of their homes to help those in need. It is their duty to act once calamity strikes. They are not ordinary people. I am sure they are healthy and strong. It was unfortunate they were in a situation beyond their control. Bulacan ended up losing five of its heroes.

The country is no stranger to strong typhoons. We may yet experience one before the year ends. Every local government needs a Search and Rescue Unit to act during a strong typhoon or calamity. They should have the proper training as well as proper equipment such as a first-aid kit, life vest, radio, strong ropes, knife, flares to attract attention if necessary, and more importantly, funding. They must train regularly and avoid complacency. If they need additional training abroad so much the better.

Super typhoon Karding caught Luzon by surprise. We were aware of it but didn't think we would wake up to the news that some parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, were now under the highest storm signal advisories. PAGASA's explanation is "explosive intensification" where the winds of a typhoon exceed 65 kilometers per hour within 24 hours. Apparently, that is what happened with Karding. I recall Ondoy. That morning, the sun was still shining brightly. By noon the situation was different. Rains continued unabated for hours. Before we knew it most areas of the NCR experienced unprecedented flooding. That day also saw its share of fallen heroes, some ordinary civilians.

Worth mentioning is the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. It is the longest one in the country spanning 540 kilometers from Cagayan Valley to Quezon Province. It acts as a natural barrier from typhoons that normally originate in the Pacific Ocean. This is the first line of defense against rampaging typhoons. Typhoons making landfall within this area generally weaken as they traverse Luzon. It goes without saying we should ensure their protection from the abuses of people. Logging in the area should be forbidden or at the least regulated and monitored. Habitats secured. Fires to be avoided as much as possible. Luzon residents have much to thank for for these mountains.

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