By Farah G. Decano
THAT the rainy season started early should no longer surprise the Filipinos and their government. Our country has been battered by numerous atmospheric and tectonic disturbances that this deviation in schedule should not be so much of a concern.
It should not be. Really. Due to the frequency of these catastrophic events, we should be experts by now in disaster mitigation and risk management.
It is incumbent upon the Department of Public Works and Highways to have long term plans in place that address the floods due to prolonged rains and unusual rise in tide. As a short-term remedy, I hope that the DPWH has already completed cleaning the main drainages in most catch basins in the country at this time.
Since the consequences of environmental turbulences cannot be restricted within the territorial limits of one local government unit, the DPWH should spearhead a dialogue among affected LGUs before pursuing any long-term plan. I remember Mayor Belen Fernandez once raised her concern about a DPWH project in Calasiao which eased the flood therein but shifted the issue to nearby Dagupan. I wish, by now, that we have learned our lesson of not merely transferring problems but really solving them.
The Department of Natural Environment and Resources, the Department of Social Welfare and other departments and agencies are expected, as well, to be prepared.
It would be ideal for the local government units to have studied their population, topography, geography, climate, industries and resources and considered them in the formulation of their land use plan. It is through this plan that climate and disaster responses are identified.
Whenever disaster happens, we hear governments and media call the Filipinos as resilient people. Initially, it sounded like a virtue of a population but its constant use seems no longer amusing. It has started to sound more like “pambobola.” To expect resiliency from our constituencies whenever calamities happen is unacceptable. It is almost an imposition upon the people to accept government ineptitude. We have to demand more from those who lead us.
It is time for our government to be anti-fragile. This term was first thoroughly discussed in the 2013 book of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It refers to that characteristic of being stronger and getting better as challenges come. This trait is superior to that of a phoenix’s. This fabled creature rises from the ashes exhibiting the same power before its death. Anti-fragile is best represented by the Hydra, a mythological multi-headed serpent who grew more heads when one is chopped off.
I hope our national and local governments will adopt systems that will promote anti-fragility. Aside from having a thorough and well-studied land use plan, I suggest that local government units prepare their business continuity plans (BCPs) and allocate proper budgets for their implementation. With the presence of BCPs, despite the presence of a predicted calamity, our government will likely not shut down and can be expected to remain, “business as usual.”
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