Desperate

When I was in the UK, flash floods hit a part of London and ITV’s top story was this: flood waters 2-inch deep entered a house, and the owner wants speedy action from the insurance company. And that’s all they went with, to save as much pennies in the shortest possible time. And here we deliver headlines of a family of 9 killed in a landslide, where insurance no longer matters just as long as we’re saving lives.

It isn’t more fun in the Philippines, it’s tragic and we cannot keep living this way.

But I’m glad the Filipino spirit is water proof. No one should ever dampen that. The Filipino social media community was helpful; information dissemination was effective on Twitter and through sharing, we moved a nation. But here’s my takeaway from that: If we have to tweet calls for rescue, even from notable areas such as the PGH, you know something about the system is not working.

We do not have to desperately tweet; this should be automatic. Don’t get me wrong, our rescuers are heroes. They are. We shouldn’t have to ask for too much of them as to demand that they risk their lives, because in the first place, we should have more personnel, more and better equipment, so we can rescue and rescue well.

On Tuesday, the onset of the monsoon’s wrath, NDRRMC reported that 202 personnel, 14 vehicles and 14 seacrafts have been deployed. That, to address to the almost 50% of Metro Manila flooded. That, to 80,000 families affected.

How can you be going from a disaster like Ondoy and be facing a similar incident with only that much of rescue assets? There is something bothering about the MMDA Spokersperson tweeting “those with or those who know someone with rubber boats” to help. We should be able to rely on our government to have rubber freaking boats.

Also on Tuesday, President Aquino announced that he has allowed the Sandiganbayan to release 75 rubber boats they confiscated as part of evidence in an Arroyo case. They were in question because they did not suit the needs of PNP, and were, therefore unusable.

They were supposedly purchased after Ondoy. And we went three years letting them sit in a room when we know too well we don’t have a flood control system and something like that is highly likely to happen again.

It is also seriously bothering if the Director for DPWH’s major flood control project tells a news anchor on air that Metro Manila has no flood control system because it would cost too much and take too long. Who cares? However much it costs, however long it takes, we should be starting now. It shouldn’t ever be an excuse to put more lives in danger.

In 2007, the DPWH boasted that the CAMANAVA Flood Control and Drainage Improvement project was 99% complete. It’s been 5 years, what in the hell is in that 1%?

Also, in July 2011, DPWH Sec. Singson announced that the project of increasing the height of dikes and revetments along Pasig river was near completion. He said: it will be finished by June 2012. Sec, anyare?

For years now, an urban planner has been knocking on the government to consider his 60 recommendations for disaster preparedness, one of which is to start building overground structures. And yet last year, the govt built an underpass in Araneta Avenue, one of the most flooded area in Metro Manila.

True. This isn’t comparable to Ondoy. That was a bigger tragedy. But it feels wrong to say that ONLY 19 died this year, and that ONLY half a million families were affected. 1 life wasted is a tragedy. It is never a point of pride.

So when the President addresses its people, looks them in the eye and says, ‘Testigo ka na nahirapan sa Ondoy noon. Hindi ko sinasabing nadalian pero ‘di kasing desperado ang tao ngayon. Mas may kumpyansa sila,’ it’s not the teeniest bit reassuring.

Yes, Mr. President, it isn’t as tragic as 2009, but when your people walk on electric wires as if gymnasts on a balance beam, or hang on to a rusty basketball ring for dear life, and patients on hospitals are trapped with no food and water, you can’t say we weren’t desperate.

Of course we were.

And while we scramble to repair the broken pieces of Luzon, more than 24,000 of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao are displaced because of a continuing conflict over a domain. Last night, Rappler reported that soldiers manning Mindanao State University in Marawi City have been ambushed by unidentified armed men.

But how could we possibly focus on that when at the same time last night, the water level in Marikina River rose to 28.14 meters, when the highest alert level is at 18m.

Of course we are desperate.

We were desperate on Tuesday, desperate yesterday, and we remain desperate today. We have been desperate since 3 years ago when in one day we lost over 300 of our countrymen, and then again last year when Sendong claimed the lives of nearly a thousand.

We are desperate everyday of our lives.

And so Mr. President, if broadcasting bad news and criticizing the government can help make things happen, then media ought to do it, even if it pisses you.

Because we cannot be opening the news every night with a greeting of a “good evening” when we know it’s every bit a lie.

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Disclaimer: Views and opinions expressed in this blog are of the author’s own and do not reflect those of her employer.

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