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Opinion

A broken record of sort

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

A little more than two years ago, or on December 3, 2020, I wrote in this column the following statements: “For years on end, I have been writing, in this column, about a sanctuary. In those articles, I dared to describe the sanctuary as an ultimate kind of evacuation center in times of catastrophic disasters.” I even mentioned about the devastation brought by typhoon Yolanda in 2013 to draw a graphic picture of the need for a “sanctuary.”

My exposition then continued with my referral to two prominent people, namely, Councilor Jun Alcover and Congressman Nograles, who pushed for a similar concept of a project. Immediately upon the pronouncements of Alcover and Nograles, I felt that my idea finally found champions. Two high profile public-service oriented personalities gave meat to my otherwise hollow dream. I thought that they would be the kind of leaders capable of bringing to fruition to a necessary undertaking.

Counting just from the day Alcover and Nograles made noise about “the sanctuary” that was more than two years ago. Maybe their dynamism must have been blunted by daunting administrative hindrances because despite the passage of years since I began dwelling on this topic, I have yet to see an executive order written, or a law or ordinance passed or better still a stone laid as a foundation of such a sanctuary. Differently said, the endorsement of such proactive politicians as Alcover and Nograles failed to move the idea from its conceptualization stage to concretization.

A theory espoused by Walter Lipman in his book entitled Public Philosophy said to the effect that a novel idea usually takes a long time to be accepted. According to Lipman, it happens more often that when such idea finally gets its recognition, it has become stale. I am sorry Mr Lipman. I insist that this idea of constructing sanctuaries has not lost its relevance. Here is why it is so.

Climate change, if world environmentalists were to be believed, is the number one problem confronting mankind. It is not the threat of thermo nuclear war. Not even Covid 19 despite the million deaths that it inflicted worldwide. I began scribbling about the need for sanctuaries, few decades ago, when world leaders raised valid concerns about the disasters resulting from such convolutions of the environment like the breach of earth’s ozone and global warming. We have witnessed how environmental degradation has spawned super typhoons that destroyed homes and caused severe flooding. Over the horrifying howl of climate change, the need for safe centers for relief and evacuation has dramatically surged.

Far from the title that I have given this article today, it is not really a broken record. I learned that Representative Rhea Gullas, the new congresswoman of the first district of Cebu Province, is making climate change as the focus of her legislative agenda. There is reason to hope that Ma’am Gullas, a young, perceptive and vibrant first term lawmaker, can explore my sanctuary idea, expand the concept, write the needed legislative measure and push for its realization.

The sanctuary I (and Alcover and Nograles) have in mind is a kind of facility that provides an immediate haven for victims of calamities. It must be a complete package of sort. First of all, it shall house primary responders. Relief operations can be quick and more effective if peace and security forces, rescue manpower, firemen, paramedics and health teams and utility personnel and their tools and equipment are stationed together. Secondly, food, water and medicines in adequate volume are in store. Persons who are rescued from disaster areas must not starve to death. Thirdly, separate spaces that meet various degrees of health and privacy requirements must be provided. These are but random suggestions which Congresswoman Gullas and her corps of learned men, trained professionals and educated thinkers can hone and improve.

This record maybe broken, still I insist playing it again and again.

EVACUATION CENTERS

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