Typhoon Ondoy is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow, leaving the country with 50 killed with an estimated 42 million pesos worth of damages. The storm, which, in some estimates, is just a moderate one, with winds just 100 kilometers per hour and moving just 85 kilometers per hour, left most of Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, in utter devastation. Authorities say the storm packed a powerful volume of rain water, which reached 341 millimeters, the highest since 1967.
More than the physical damages to homes and casualties, the storm left the country with more psychological scars. The people have already been affected most by high food and gasoline prices and paupered by a debilitating financial crisis. The damages wrought by this storm to as many as 280,000 people would surely affect the political future of this administration in 2010.
This storm exposed this government more than what those Joc-Joc Bolante or ZTE-NBN cases did before---it further exposed the weakness of this government especially in addressing disasters and calamities.
With billions of pesos supposedly under its disposal, this government still failed in its most basic responsibility--that of protecting its people from harm. It has reportedly prepared for contingencies like these; yet how amateurish this government exercised its responsibility.
Imagine, the NDCC was able to mobilize just 13 rubber boats. There were half a million people trapped in their homes and subdivisions, most of whom were in their rooftops. The government should have mobilized rescue choppers, not only rubber boats. What happened to those choppers? Are they only for the exclusive use of generals and high government officials?
What they don't say is that what happened to those expensive water pumps which the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spent billions of pesos worth of our taxes. MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando once boasted that these pumps are capable of managing onrushing flood waters. MMDA should better prepare for a rational explanation what happened to those pumps.
The budget of P 500 million were also spent by the MMDA in its de-clogging operations. What happened? The people know that the volume of rain water reached 341 millimeters, yes. But, look at how high those flood waters were--most areas were submerged in at least 12 feet. The MMDA said that their projects were capable of mitigating the effects of rushing flood waters. What happened to our monies spent there?
If the MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando still has what others call delicadeza, he should have resigned today. In other countries, like Japan, officials who erred in their BASIC responsibilities, tender their resignations immediately, go straight home, get their samurais, and carve something in their stomachs. Here, we, the people, need to still convince nincompoops like Bayani to do the right thing. Kapal ng mukha!
Just the same, I also would like to ask the Honorable Defense secretary Gilbert "Gibo Teodoro, the head of the NDCC. What happened to our choppers? Why are they grounded? I would also like to ask DPWH secretary Hermogenes Ebdane who is responsible for assisting the MMDA in declogging operations, sir, what happened?
Of course, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo---why were we like frightened kids yesterday and last night? You always prepare whenever you travel abroad. Why were you unprepared in this? Where are those billions of pesos of intelligence funds that you control?
Floods are now subsiding in most of Luzon, but the psychological damage wrought by the storm in most of residents of the Metropolis and those living in Regions 4, 4-a, 4-b and Central Luzon will definitely change the political futures of some.
The lives of 280,000 people were affected, with about 42 to 50 million pesos damaged. The huge volume of people traumatized by this storm will surely make a substantive impact on the political situation of this country.
Natural calamities are stronger than political intramurals in effecting change in other countries. In the next few weeks, the impact of Typhoon Ondoy would surely be felt by this country's leadership if they continue to do nothing.
One advice to this government----this early, make a threat to those who will capitalize on this natural calamity, especially food traders. Kill them if they think of raising food prices. I warn these traders who will use this calamity as a justification in raising market prices--be forewarned! We know who you are. If you are thinking of getting a fast buck out of this, the people will look for you and you'll be neutralized.