“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

“Managing” Disaster

Fr. Fernando Navidad Egargo, Ph.D

By Fr. Fernando Navidad Egargo, Ph.D

“There will be earthquakes in various places, as well as famines. So be on your guard.” (cf. Mark 13.8-9)

SO be on your guard. I do not wish to take this biblical passage out of context. The complete text, of course, talks about the “end times” and the necessity of preparing for it.The LORD mentioned this phrase quite a few times. His intentions seemed obvious – belief in God does not only mean passively hoping for great things to happen; it also means exercising vigilance.

At an average, the Philippines would be hit by at least 10 typhoons a year. Some are light, others are rather destructive. In most cases, Samar Island serves as the gateway. I have heard of old folks talk about the destruction caused by Bagyo Amy (1951),packing a strength of 240 kph. And then we had Undang, Basyang, Yolanda, Zorayda, Urduja, and many more in between. Thanks God the earthquakes we had in the past had not been as devastating as the typhoons.
So, recognizing that Samar is the main “welcoming” committee of typhoons entering the Philippines, we have no other choice but be ready. The torrential monsoon rains that caused havoc and severe flooding in Metro Manila (August 11-12, 2018) has highlighted once again the vulnerability of our communities in times of natural disasters. Interestingly, while many people were harping on the virtue of Filipino resiliency in the midst of difficulties, pointing out that people still managed to smile and laugh while wading through the flood, it likewise betrayed the fact that designated agencies/units failed miserably in the performance of their responsibilities. It is not enough to rely on the time-tested yet overly-abused idea of Filipino resiliency. Easing the troubles that people go through demands more than resiliency. It can’t be left to a feeling of desperation and helplessness, either. It demands “management”.

The question is, “Who manages or plans the preparations?” The national government? The provincial government? The local government units? The barangay? The communities? The families? Individuals? The answer : all of the above. The disastrous effects of illegal and irresponsible mining in Samar, for example, are not only caused by greedy mining companies; they are also caused by individuals who allow themselves to be manipulated. The clogging of the drainage with all sorts of rubbish cannot simply be blamed on the inefficiency of garbage collectors but also primarily on individuals who carelessly dispose of their trash as if the streets are their private dumpsites. Corrupt politicians and contractors are not the only persons to blame when substandard buildings, bridges, or roads easily collapse few months after being declared “completed”. Those who “certify” the reliability and completeness of the works are just as equally responsible.

Undeniably, these disasters (both natural and man-made)bring about unspeakable damage. It does not mean, however, that we are totally helpless. We can certainly take proactive measures as a way of minimizing or eliminating the adverse consequences of such calamities. Individually and collectively, we can stop them before they cause havoc in our lives. The horrendous effects of these disasters are multiplied when we do not take active role in making sure that possible destruction to human life and properties are minimized, if not totally prevented.
It is typhoon season again. It’s not the time to just sit back and relax. Be on guard. Be vigilant. Be prepared.
When things go right, everybody takes credit. But when things go wrong, no one takes the blame. Let us work together and take action. Enough acting like we are always the victims. There are times when we simply have to say, “The buck stops with me”.

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