Philippines Current Events: Coordinating Disaster Is A Disaster For National Disaster Coordinating Councild
I don’t like the National Disaster Coordinating Council of the Philippines. Simply because they lack COORDINATION! It’s a given that Ondoy has brought so much damage to property, to homes, and not to mention the thousands of people who had to be evacuated.
Coordinating rescue operations is no joke, but it’s rather such a disappointment that they couldn’t get something going quickly enough. After all, it’s a matter of coordination. If the NDCC receives a call for help, then they coordinate the efforts with the nearest rescue operation unit in that area – whether it be hospital, police or barangay. From there, the local rescue unit will give an assessment of the situation, (i.e. “we cannot get to those victims due to severe floods.”)
From that point the NDCC will coordinate this information to those who can do something about the situation, such as the Philippine Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, or maybe they might have their own special equipment or task force that can respond to the call since the local unit cannot, and then THAT is dispatched with the utmost emergency. And then coordinate a place with which they can use for evacuation. After all, you don’t just rescue the cat from a tree just to leave him in a pit of dogs.
What happened to yesterday’s disaster because of Ondoy had the phone lines of the NDCC on fire, and yet without anyone to really provide the proper coordination in order to get things done. The slow process of bureaucracy before Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro could mobilize anything is just not acceptable when lives and property are at stake, especially those who stand to lose EVERYTHING.
Sorry – Gilbert Teodoro - but you just lost my vote.
Then, there’s that NDCC Deputy Director Anthony Golez Jr., who I believe may have a good heart, but just looks like a total dweeb. Anthony Golez Jr., in an interview with ABS-CBN, asked for an apology for the delayed effort in the rescue operations, citing that the flood made things difficult. Sorry – Anthony Golez Jr. – I was taught to produce results and not excuses, and I can’t believe you even had the time to conduct an interview to apologize instead of getting on that damn phone and finding more trucks and more rubber boats and more choppers, or coordinating more evacuation centers.
Then, when he was asked if school and work would be suspended, Anthony Golez Jr. quipped something like it would depend on the bureaucracy. Apparently, there is a criteria that must be followed for the suspension of classes or work, or the declaration of any calamity, and it has such a frigging red-tape process. (you may check it out here). It’s no wonder kids take the dangerous trek to school at 5Am and get to school on time at 7am, only to find out that government will suspend classes at 11am (government work starts at 8am or 9am.) By that time – the situation of the weather is near disastrous, and students are stranded.
So, anyway, Anthony Golez Jr. can’t say if there are no classes or work on Monday because some government offices are closed on Sunday, and no one is around to write the memo. If you look at the red tape process of suspending classes and work by the NDCC, you will understand the importance of the memo.
Apart from the rescue operations, the NDCC should have better coordination in the gathering of information as to those that may need relief. They should also coordinate all the efforts of volunteer groups and point them to designated areas. They should also coordinate the charity and relief assistance from various groups to send out to evacuation centers or disaster areas. COORDINATION – it’s in their job description.
Instead, what’s going on now, is that several groups and foundations have risen up to volunteer their services, and yet they are like headless chickens running around. Sure, ABSCBN is doing a tele-thon and getting donations with even the supposed head of Coca-Cola – pledging 2 million bottles of Wilkins drinking water. Fine – it sounds good on television, but I want those 2 million bottles now! I want 10,000 of those put on a truck and sent to Marikina. I want 10,000 more sent to Rizal. I want 20,000 more floated down the Pasig river to reach homes that cannot be reached. I want immediate action through coordination. I want to see the pledged 2 million water bottles making its way somewhere it is needed. Instead, it might take 2 weeks for me to ever see those bottles, and some might just find its way to a studio set and not to a relief center.
The Red Cross have their hotlines. ABSCBN Foundation have their own fund-raiser. Politicians and presidential aspirants are setting up their own relief centers. – those are all good. But then, eventually, there has to be someone at the top of all that to say, “ABSCBN release that 1 million peso donation so we can rent out 5 choppers to do rescue operations. NOW!”
We need someone to say, “Red Cross! Shell out Php100,000 so we can run gensets at the evacuation centers, and put cots and blankets, and give medication…”
The good will of the people and their good intentions to help their fellow Filipinos is fine, but it’s the coordination of important action that is needed during a state of calamity that is truly lacking. We may have saved a child from drowning in the flood, but if we put that child in a place that has no food or medicine or warmth from the storm, then we just gave that child a new place to die. We didn’t save that child at all.
If there is no one in charge with that kind of capacity, power or responsibility, to command that kind of action from local government units, NGO’s, or from private groups, then there is no point in putting up a National Disaster Coordinating Council if they cannot coordinate such things at a time of disaster.
In other countries, like the US – when a policeman needs to accost your vehicle to chase a suspect, then he gets it by flashing a badge and without questions asked. And if he wrecks it, then it will be cared for by the government. That kind of authority empowering a simple police officer allows things to get done in terms of results. We have to put that in a bigger scale in order to mobilize things at a time of disaster, at a state of calamity.
Anyway, the National Disaster Coordinating Council can begin the change by upgrading the NDCC website to make it look like a site of action, and not just a mere web-brochure on press releases about agreements made for fudning. I’m beginnning to get the feeling that the NDCC is a lobbyist group in search of relief, instead of an action group. If it were action, then the first page of their site should be a form for an incident report, or a hotline number in big bold letters. And don’t forget to check the NDCC contacts directory (the number of Golez isn’t even there!). If the primary contact number of the NDCC is the “Webnaster”, then we are truly screwed. And if the alignment of the NDCC contacts directory page is anything to consider on how to coordinate things – then God save us all because the NDCC surely doesn’t look capable at all.
Don’t even get me started with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD.)
Anyway, I was just informed that there is an online Rescue InfoHub Central. I’m just uncertain how this works, or who’s responsible or on top of this, but it’s disconcerting that there are only 200 incident reports with everything that is going on.
I just really wish that the coordination of this disaster be swift. It is frustrating to think that with all the cooks in the kitchen, the efforts for rescue, relief and rehabilitation will be delayed in bureaucracy. Before you know it – the funds raised will be used for an election campaign, or some other misappropriate use.
By the way – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo‘s office has been rather quiet.