Archive for the Philippine Current Events Category

Reclassify Marijuana, as NOT a Dangerous Drug

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine Current Events, Philippine Environment, Philippine News, Philippine Politics with tags , , on June 14, 2012 by JJ Duque

Reclassify Marijuana, as NOT a Dangerous Drug.

Greetings,

I just signed the following petition addressed to: Honorable ANTONIO “BEBOT” VILLAR, JR. Chairman, Dangerous Drugs Board.

—————-
Reclassify Marijuana, as NOT a Dangerous Drug.

Section 93 of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” states that:

“Reclassification, Addition or Removal of Any Drug from the List of Dangerous Drugs. – The Board shall have the power to reclassify, add to or remove from the list of dangerous drugs. Proceedings to reclassify, add, or remove a drug or other substance may be initiated by the PDEA, the DOH, or by petition from any interested party, including the manufacturer of a drug, a medical society or association, a pharmacy association, a public interest group concerned with drug abuse, a national or local government agency, or an individual citizen. When a petition is received by the Board, it shall immediately begin its own investigation of the drug. The PDEA also may begin an investigation of a drug at any time based upon the information received from law enforcement laboratories, national and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies, or other sources of information.”

Based on the above Republic Act, we, the people of the Republic of the Philippines, would like to petition for the reclassification and decriminalization of Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Ruderalis, and derivative products of the said natural plant species. Herein, we will present you with the basic facts and sources of information from which you can then launch a thorough investigation into Cannabis’ many uses such as MEDICINE, PAPER, FUEL, FIBER, FOOD, and HOUSING.

First and foremost, Cannabis cannot be classified under the list of DANGEROUS drugs, as it poses no health threat to its users. The World Health Organization states that Tobacco kills nearly 6,000,000 people a year[1] and Alcohol results in 2,500,000 deaths each year. [2] Cannabis, on the other hand, has NO DIRECT RECORDED DEATHS attributed to it. If anything, the two prior drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol, should be topping your Dangerous Drugs list, as they kill more people per annum than all the dangerous drugs on your list – COMBINED.

Secondly, Cannabis IS MEDICINE, and has been for the past few thousand years. Currently, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide use Cannabis to relieve the symptoms of debilitating diseases. A 2002 review of medical literature by Franjo Grotenhermen states that medical cannabis has established effects in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, unintentional weight loss, insomnia, and lack of appetite. Other “relatively well-confirmed” effects were in the treatment of “spasticity, painful conditions, especially neurogenic pain, movement disorders, asthma, and glaucoma”.

Preliminary findings indicate that cannabis-based drugs could prove useful in treating inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, fibromyalgia, and related conditions.
Medical cannabis has also been found to relieve certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries by exhibiting antispasmodic and muscle-relaxant properties as well as stimulating appetite.

Other studies state that cannabis or cannabinoids may be useful in treating alcohol abuse, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, collagen-induced arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, bipolar disorder, colorectal cancer, HIV-Associated Sensory Neuropathy depression, dystonia, epilepsy, digestive diseases, gliomas, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, leukemia, skin tumors, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Parkinson’s disease, pruritus, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psoriasis, sickle-cell disease, sleep apnea, and anorexia nervosa.

A study done by Craig Reinarman surveyed among why people in California used cannabis and it found many reasons why people had used cannabis. It was used to relieve pain, muscle spasms, headaches, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, depression, cramps, panic attacks, diarrhea, and itching. Others used cannabis to improve sleep, relaxation, appetite, concentration or focus, and energy. Some patients used it to prevent medication side effects, anger, involuntary movements, and seizures, while others used it as a substitute for other prescription medications and alcohol. [3]

Even the United States National Cancer Institute acknowledges Cannabis’ Antitumor, Appetite Stimulation, and Analgesic effects on its webpage. [4]

Aside from this, Harvard University published a study that concluded that the active ingredient in Cannabis cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread. [5]

Also, the American Medical Association cites Cannabis’ patient treatment and healing abilities in their “Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health “, and thus called for the rescheduling of the said drug. [6]

More information about Cannabis and how it may be used as a treatment for people with serious medical conditions can be found in this Medical Cannabis brochure:
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/cancer_brochure.pdf

Thirdly, one of the biggest positive impacts that the rescheduling of Cannabis would produce is the reintegration of hemp into our society, and more importantly in current times, our economy. Hemp is a plant that is grown for industrial use only; in fact, hemp contains less that 1% THC and causes no “high” when smoked.

From an INDUSTRIAL standpoint, hemp provides many advantages over a great deal of current resources that the Philippines utilizes. The most common use for hemp is in the production of textile based products. Hemp fibers are considerably strong so that makes it ideal for the production of many products like PAPER, FABRIC, and ROPE. Hemp produces a higher yield per acre than cotton and has a growing cycle of only 100 days instead of 160. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can produce four times as much paper from a hectare of Cannabis than a hectare of trees. Imagine all the forests we could save!

But perhaps the most important attribute of hemp is its ability to produce a substantial amount of CELLULOSE. Cellulose is a compound that, in more recent years, has been converted into a BIOFUEL called cellulostic ethanol. This biofuel can power everything that our fossil fuels currently does and is being produced most commonly in the form of “energy crops;” mostly corn and cotton. Hemp holds an advantage though, because it yields four times the amount of cellulose you can get from a corn stalk, plus it is carbon-negative, meaning it has already captured enough carbon during growth, in a process called carbon sequestration, to make up for the carbon that it releases when burned. In layman’s terms, it is ECO FRIENDLY.

Once rescheduled, Cannabis can also be used as FOOD. Technically a nut, hemp seed typically contains over 30% oil and about 25% protein, with considerable amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Hemp seed oil is over 80% in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and is an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids (EFAs) linoleic acid (18:2 omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-3). The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (n6/n3) in hemp seed oil is normally between 2:1 and 3:1, which is considered to be optimal for human health. In addition, the biological metabolites of the two EFAs, gamma-linolenic acid (18:3 omega-6; ‘GLA’) and stearidonic acid (18:4 omega-3; ‘SDA’), are also present in hemp seed oil. The two main proteins in hemp seed are edestin and albumin. Both of these high-quality storage proteins are easily digested and contain nutritionally significant amounts of all essential amino acids. In addition, hemp seed has exceptionally high levels of the amino acid arginine. [7]
What does this mean? This means that Cannabis seeds’ amino acid profile is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. The proportions of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in one tablespoon (15 ml) per day of hemp oil easily provides human daily requirements for EFAs.

Aside from the above, Cannabis can be used as a material to make HOUSES.
Hempcrete is a mixture of hemp hurds (shives) and lime (possibly including natural hydraulic lime, sand, pozzolans or cement) used as a material for construction and insulation. It is marketed under names like Hemcrete, Canobiote, Canosmose, and Isochanvre. Hempcrete is easier to work than traditional lime mixes and acts as an insulator and moisture regulator. It lacks the brittleness of concrete and consequently does not need expansion joints.

Honorable Villar, Cannabis laws, as they are now, cost tax payers millions of pesos a year. The taxpayers have to pay for every individual that is sent to prison for possession of Cannabis and nothing more. It’s time to face the facts — most Cannabis users are peaceful, well adjusted members of society. Their “crime” is nothing more than possessing and ingesting or smoking dried flowers from a non-toxic plant. The effects of their “crime” are usually nothing more than being hungry, laughing, enjoying chit-chat with friends, and watching TV. This is a VICTIMLESS crime, which should not be punished by the state. A democratic government has no right to tell its citizens — its employers — what they can or cannot ingest, eat, smoke, or drink. And a democratic government has no right to withhold a miracle plant from its citizens. Especially not one that can be used to the advantage of the citizens in creating more jobs, upping tourism, healing the sick, and helping the environment.

If Cannabis is not rescheduled, then we the people must ask for the basis of its illegality. We must be satisfied with facts, statistics, solid reasoning, and casualties. The burden of proof falls on the government’s hands.

1. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/index.html
2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs349/en/index.html
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_cannabis
4. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4
5. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm
6. http://www.ama-assn.org/resources/doc/csaph/csaph-report3-i09.pdf
7. http://naihc.org/hemp_information/hemp_facts.html
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp

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Philippine Sports: Burger King To Donate Wynne Arboleda’s “Lost Income” To Typhoon Victims

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Current Events, Philippine News, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

Just finished writing the piece about the DSWD volunteers, and how Rock Ed Philippines founder Gang Badoy received word from DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral. Of course, I shared a copy of the post with Gang Badoy at her Facebook account, and sort of reconnected. For the past years, we’ve bumped into each other but without much conversation, or at the least just surface conversation.

Anyway – we had a chance to exchange more words than normal, and she gave props to the Philippines Fun Wall, and shared with me her petition which is – Burger King Inc. should donate Wynne Arboleda’s “lost income” to the survivors of recent Philippine typhoons.

The petition reads as:

To Concerned Filipinos:

In the light of the recent suspension (by the Philippine Basketeball Aassociation) of Burger King player Wynne Arboleda it has come to our attention that the quantified ‘loss of income’ he will have to accept as part of the penalties has been estimated to be approximately PhP 2.73Million.*

Less than a month ago our country withstood two consecutive typhoons that resulted to reducing many areas of our country into literal ‘states of calamity’ – many are rendered homeless, many are orphaned, many are robbed off property, capital, crops, capacity to earn, and even now deprived of hope. To this day, (Oct 19, 2009)thousands of families are still clueless on where or how to rebuild their lives.

It is from that note that this petition is being presented. We would like to pressure Burger King Inc and/or the Philippine Basketball Association to donate the salary set aside for Mr. Wynne Arboleda either to rehabilitate communities, to send relief goods to the still needy or organize a subsequent and periodic medical assistance program to flood-razed sites.

This group stems from the fact that the suspension was already passed and declared by the PBA therefore we have not and will not release any statement regarding the incident-per-se that got Mr. Arboleda suspended. All we know is that his suspension has been declared and PhP 2.73M is the estimated (now) savings of Burger King from that drop-out.

So let us state our petition again:

WE WOULD LIKE TO RESPECTFULLY AND REASONABLY REQUEST BURGER KING AND/OR THE PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION OR WHOEVER CAN GIVE THE DIRECTIVE OVER THIS SITUATION – TO DONATE THE AMOUNT SET ASIDE FOR THE NOW-SUSPENDED ATHLETE – MR. WYNNE ARBOLEDA TO ANY EXISTING RELIEF AND REHAB OPERATION SET UP TO ASSIST SURVIVORS OF TYPHOONS ONDOY AND PEPENG.

REGARDING WHICH NGO/INSTITUTION TO SUPPORT: WE WILL LEAVE THAT TO THE DISCRETION OF THE UPPER-MANAGEMENT OF BURGER KING INC AND/OR THE PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION.

We do this with utmost reason, we look forward to your kind consideration of this request all that we ask for is this – when you heed this petition, kindly inform us of your decision. It would comfort many of us to know that big businesses and corporations have real heart as well- please give us hope. This is not a request for EXTRAS Burger King, Inc – we are aware that this is not a real loss to your profits because the amount has been earmarked and promised to Mr. Arboleda before he was suspended anyway.

We will await your response with optimism and a complete trust in your Bayanihan spirit during this terribly needy time in our country.

Now for those who wish to sign the online petition, then just click here.

We Encourage Burger King To Donate The Forefeited Salary of Wynne Arboleda To The Typhoon Victims
We Encourage Burger King To Donate The Forefeited Salary of Wynne Arboleda To The Typhoon Victims

However, maybe the signed petition may not be needed because according to certain sources, it seems that Burger King Inc. has decided to take upon the suggestion of the petition to donate the ‘lost income’ of Wynne Arboleda to the typhoon victims anyway.

Gang Badoy explained that PBA sportscasters TJ Manotoc (who proposed the petition) and Patricia Hizon were not optimistic at first that Burger King would consider this because allocating that salary wasn’t that simple. Of course, nothing is.

But then, the petition does make a valid point – that 2.73M is already in the budget, and if it was supposed to be spent on Arboleda, but he can’t accpet it, then maybe it can be put to good use to help others who are in need of that cash, such as the many typhoon victims. Burger King Inc. must have realized that this was also a good way to protect their corporate image, and also do something to improve the reputation of Wynne Arboleda. In any case, the reports were published in Philstar.com about Wynne Arboleda pursuing the suggestion with Burger King Inc. management to donate his ‘lost salary.’ You can actually read the article on the donation of Wynne Arboleda by clicking here.

If that really holds true, and there is a true confirmation of the donation by Wynne Arboleda then it’s awesome that an online petition (on an idea suggested by TJ Manotoc and executed by Gang Badoy) has progressed to something helpful and tangible for the typhoon victims.

If you want to see the change, you just gotta be the change. Don’t feel afraid , to share your thoughts, and especially to act those ideas out! The hope for the country is the fact that every single Filipino is empowered to help out there fellow countryman. We indeed have the power to improve our country – through small steps – through a little persuasion in the proper perspective.

Impossible is nothing.

Philippine Current Events: DSWD Clarifies Hoarding Rumors and Welcomes Volunteers

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Current Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by JJ Duque

Last Friday (Oct. 23, 2009 ), the Philippine internet network went abuzz with alleged reports that the DSWD was hoarding international relief good donations. Apparently, a blogger named Ella (ellaganda.com) who volunteered to repack goods for the DSWD gave reports that the DSWD had a warehouse full of relief supplies that were not being distributed with the utmost urgency, and that there were not enough volunteers to go repack the goods.

This news circulated in the internet, particularly in Facebook, and many Filipino netizens and Facebook users reposted Ella’s report. Of course, many of these Facebook users vented their frustrations at the DSWD, and the media went to verify these reports.

Eventually, DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral defended the accusations lashed against her department. According to Esperanza Cabral, the relief goods found at the warehouse had yet to undergo an inventory check, and yes – the DSWD was short on volunteers to handle the huge inventory.

Since the situation escalated to this level, DSWD Esperanza Cabral took the initiative to get in touch with Gang Badoy of Rock Ed Philippines (www.rockedphilippines.org), and also one of those who reposted Ella’s recount on her blog. Esperanza Cabral invited Gang Badoy to come up with volunteers that she would accommodate to help repack these relief goods.

Gang Badoy, Founder of Rock Ed Philippines

Gang Badoy, Founder of Rock Ed Philippines

According to Gang Badoy, DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral agreed for Rock Ed Philippines to come up with a group of 50 volunteers per day to work at the 3pm-11pm shift from Monday to Friday. Altough the DSWD is working 24 hours a day to consolidate relief packing efforts, they have agreed to block a shift to accommodate private citizen volunteers (such as the Rock Ed Philippines NGO).

On a personal note – I suppose this is their manner to quell down the infuriated mob of Facebook users, and also to allow other volunteers to bare witness to the operations of the DSWD, so that they may be made aware before they past judgement as they had when they made a barrage re-posting that Friday of the alleged DSWD hoarding rumors.

Anyway, for those who want to volunteer for the DSWD and get a chance to see their warehouse full of relief goods, then just fill up the volunteer sign-up sheet by clicking on this link.

Lastly, I would like to thank Sandy Cabral (daughter of Esperanza Cabral) for getting in touch with me to make sure that the rumors regarding the alleged DSWD hoarding where first looked into before the unconfirmed news was sent out to Facebook. I won’t apologize for re-posting on the Philippines Fun Wall about Ella’s account. In fact, if this hadn’t happened, then I believe there wouldn’t be any focus on the DSWD and their efforts, adn the help that they so desperately need.

Philippine Current Events: DSWD Hoarding Relief Goods and Supplies For Typhoon Victims

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine Current Events, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by JJ Duque

A blogger by the name of Ella (ellaganda.com) volunteered to do re-packing of relief goods for the DSWD. Apparently, to her dismay, Ella and her 8 group of friends were the only ones who were volunteering to repack a 1000 sq. m. warehouse full of relief goods.

According to DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral, the reason why the DSWD warehouse is still full of unpacked relief goods is because they lack volunteers. However, according to Ella, those who did wish to volunteer were turned away, citing that there were already too many volunteers.

Anyway, there is more to the story about the DSWD hoarding situation, and you can find out more about it from the post in the Multiply site of Gang Badoy, who reposted the story of Ella since her blog was blocked and shut down. COuld it be because she exposed the faults of the DSWD? Maybe.

The same excerpt can also be found on the blog of Jenni Epperson, complete with all the pictures of the stocks they have piled and unused in the DSWD warehouse.

Just Some of The Many Relief Goods Not Being Given Away Just Yet  By The DSWD

Just Some of The Many Relief Goods Not Being Given Away Just Yet By The DSWD

Just click on the links above, and see for yourself what the fucking problem is with the DSWD. And hopefully, someone raise awareness so that someone may act on this. FAST!

Philippine News: The Philippine National Red Cross Now Accepts Donations Via Paypal

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Current Events, Philippine News with tags , , , , on September 30, 2009 by JJ Duque

More Than 300,000 Filipinos Left Homeless

More Than 300,000 Filipinos Left Homeless

You would think that an organization like the Red Cross would have everything covered. Well, so things are slow in the Philippines. But finally, someone in the Philippine National Red Cross has taken the initiative to set up an account so that PayPal members can finally send donations. This is especially important at this state of calamity after the passing of tropical storm Ketsana (aka Ondoy here in the Philippines) wreaked havoc in various parts of the country.

Anyway, you may direct your donations to give@redcross.org.ph.

“Danghang Salamat, Ondoy” by Ramil Digal Gulle

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine Current Events, Philippine Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

[The Following Excerpt Was Written by Ramil Digal Gulle, And I Am Just Re-posting His Inspiring Message Here]

All I wanted to do on Saturday morning was to go to my doctor. After getting off the MRT station in Kamuning (about 10 am) I waded through ankle-deep floodwaters to accompany my wife to the TV station where she works. The rest of the day was already clear in my head: Go to the doctor, finish my business there by around lunchtime (there are usually quite a number of patients, and I wasn’t expecting to finish earlier than that), pick up my wife and we go home for some needed time with the kids.

I thought nothing of it when the doctor’s nurse texted me to say that the doctor’s clinic was already flooded. The clinic is in the low-lying Kamias area. Fine, I told myself, I’ll just go to Hi-Top and buy a bottle of wine and ingredients for dinner. My daughter had requested that I cook for dinner.

After Hi-Top, I proceeded to the TV station where my wife works. I was walking the whole time because of the rain. I felt no danger despite the rain. The rain wasn’t that strong by the time I left Hi-Top. Then I reached the corner of Panay Avenue and Sergeant Esguerra. Holy shit. The floodwaters were neck-deep in Esguerra!

I turned left on Panay, planning to take the train at the Quezon Avenue MRT then disembark at Kamuning station, so I could just walk towards the TV station. I reached Hen Lin (a Chinese fastfood) which is right under the MRT station. I was surprised to see that Edsa was flooded. The area in front of the McDonald’s outlet was waist-deep in flood.

There was a guy—he was soaked from head-to-foot—who was warning people getting off the Quezon Avenue MRT station. He was telling everyone who could hear him: “O, wag na kayo dyan sa Esguerra. Hanggang leeg doon. Dito sa may Edsa hanggang baywang. Mamili na lang kayo kung saan niyo gustong magpakamatay.”

[Don’t go to Esguerra. The water there is neck-deep. Over there at Edsa it’s waist-deep. You guys choose which side you prefer. You choose where you want to kill yourself.]

The guy was trying to be funny. I went up the MRT station, boarded the train and got off at Kamuning. When I reached the TV station, my wife texted me that she won’t be going home. All TV news staff were required to stay because of widespread flooding.

I called the kids at home. Thank God there wasn’t too much rain in Cavite. Finally, I saw what was happening in Marikina and Rizal on the TV set at the visitor’s area. Shit. I won’t be able to go home. Then I also learned that the way to Cavite was impassable.

After talking to my 9-year-old daughter some more and assessing that Cavite would likely not be affected by the typhoon, I made up my mind to wait for my wife. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to let her go home alone, with floodwaters rising in Quezon City.

People were coming to the TV station. Every single one was asking for help. They had loved ones trapped inside their house by floodwaters. There were loved ones already on rooftops. The floods were rising too fast in some areas. And so began my long day: filled with the weeping of women, worries about friends trapped in rooftops, worries about my kids (what if the typhoon turns and hits Cavite?), and a feeling of utter helplessness.

My wife worked till about midnight. We tried to get to Cavite but even before we reached the tollgate of the expressway leading to Bacoor, huge trucks were already turning back. We were in a cab. I decided not to risk whatever was ahead. There could have been floods, an accident, etc.

My daughter kept calling my mobile phone. She was crying. When were we going to get home? After getting assured that there was no flooding in Cavite, that our kids were not in danger of any flood, I told my wife we should just wait for morning. We turned back and stayed in a hotel—the hotel lobby to be exact. All the rooms were booked. It was already 2am. We couldn’t sleep. We simply waited till the sun was up.

When I finally got home today, the first thing I did was gather wife and kids for prayers. We prayed out of gratitude. We were all safe. Then we prayed for all those who were still trapped, who were still struggling to stay alive amid floodwaters. I was crying.

I find myself unable to sleep after being awake since 6 am yesterday morning. I’m still keyed up. My wife’s asleep, finally, after getting a massage. I want to sleep but each time I manage to doze off, I jerk awake at the slightest noise. So I’ll just write.

I can’t get the sound of weeping mothers out of my head. That’s how I spent the night while stranded in Quezon City. All these mothers kept talking about their kids. One mother, Lina, could not help but cry for her kids, who were trapped in the third storey of a neighbor’s house for out eight hours already by the time she spoke to me. Her husband was also trapped by floodwaters—he could not leave his office in Quezon City.

Here are some things I learned from the experience. I can write them down in the comfort of home with my wife and kids safely with me. I actually feel guilty that I’m in this situation. I feel guilty that I’m not out there on a rubber boat saving people. So I’ll write some more and go to bed. After I get some sleep, I might have a saner perspective.

Our families are not prepared for climate change. Typhoon Ondoy was true to its name, which means “little boy”—it wasn’t a supertyphoon. And yet, we all failed in so many fronts.

In our own home, we don’t have an emergency kit. The flashlight is no longer where I always put it. Furthermore, I’m not aware of any evacuation plan in our community. Who do we call? Where do we evacuate when waters start rising? I have no idea. It’s the sort of ignorance that kills.

One friend of mine lost her possessions in the floods. Her husband and kids are safe. She had the quick and sensible thinking to have her family evacuate shortly after the water began seeping into their house and after the power was cut off. They left everything and booked themselves in a hotel. “I lost everything,” she told me over her mobile phone. I told her that the most important things in her life were saved.

Our government—both the national government and the LGUs–is not prepared for climate change. If people are safe now—relatively, for some, because it’s again starting to rain and many are still trapped on rooftops, awaiting rescue—it’s because of prayer. So many people were—are still—praying. It seems the prayers were heard because we all got a respite from the rain.

Filipinos have a saying, “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa” (God dispenses mercy but man has to do the work). God has already dispensed his mercy. Will we do our part?

There’s no excuse for the lack of rubber boats, for example. We have floods every year. But every year, we are unprepared. The two rubber boats that began rescuing people in Marikina were a relief to know about, but why only two?

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman Dick Gordon tried to transport several more rubber boats but these had to come all the way from Olongapo. And with the traffic jams at the expressways, they could not get to Metro Manila in time.

The headquarters of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are both in Quezon City. And yet, for nearly 12 hours, Quezon City residents trapped in floods could not be rescued. The AFP, if I remember correctly, usually has the biggest slice of the national budget every year. But where were the choppers? Where were the rubber boats? Clearly something is very wrong.

Then we recall how General Carlos Garcia, former AFP comptroller, was caught (by US authorities, not by Philippine authorities) trying to bring in millions of pesos in cash to the US. It does not inspire faith in the military leadership.

We also recall a lot of things that are disquieting: government resources being used to secure a questionable telecoms deal with a Chinese firm; millions of pesos spent on Presidential dinners abroad; millions of pesos in campaign contributions unaccounted for; millions of pesos spent on a California mansion; billions of pesos spent on foreign trips; and a cancelled plan to buy a new Presidential jet.

How do you explain all that to kids trapped on their rooftop for nearly 24 hours—soaking wet, hungry, crying for their mothers and going insane with fear?

How do you explain the fact that the government can spend millions upon millions on so many other projects, but could only produce two rubber boats to rescue scores of residents trapped in a flooded Marikina village? How do you explain the President’s lobster and steak dinners to Rizal residents neck-deep in muddy floodwaters?

Every year, we get floods and typhoons. Every year, we give money to the AFP and the NDCC. And all that the Marikina residents get are two rubber boats?

And wasn’t Marikina always being trumpeted as some sort of “First World City in a Third World Country”? Clean and green Marikina. Disciplined Marikina, a jewel of law and order in the chaos of the Mega Manila.

The Marikina River floods every year. Every year. But when it really mattered, the City Government of Marikina did not have enough emergency equipment, did not have enough rubber boats. Or if it did, it did not have the capacity to deploy these resources in time. It seemed to have no plan for the evacuation of residents at Provident Village before floodwaters could reach it.

And former Marikina mayor Bayani Fernando wants to run the rest of the country the way he did Marikina—or at least, that’s the impression we get. We could be wrong.

To be fair, none of us expected something like Typhoon Ondoy. But the lack of rubber boats, the seeming lack of coordinated response, the empty promises made over the media—these are simply not acceptable. These do not inspire our confidence in government once the next super typhoon hits. I mentioned Marikina only as an example.

I’m not blaming Fernando or his wife (the present Marikina mayor). I’m just stating how things appear. The real story about the slow rescue, etc. might unfold in the next few days.

[Kris Aquino was talking on TV about Marikina rescue efforts. She said that according to one Marikina resident, there were rubber boats deployed by the Marikina government–but the river’s currents were so strong that the rubber boats got overturned. It was also pointed out that Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando did everything she could but “nature’s wrath” was just too powerful. In the interest of fairness I should point this out.]

What happened to Marikina can happen anywhere. The local governments of Bulacan, Pasig and Rizal fared no better. Are our local governments prepared for climate change? Are they prepared for typhoons like Ondoy, or much stronger ones? Your guess is as good as mine.

What would have happened if Ondoy didn’t leave the country in the hours following the massive flooding? What if it was a super typhoon that decided to stay for a few days?

The answer is so obvious that we’re scared to state it: Death and Chaos. So many people, so many children will die. Our loved ones will die. We will die.

The next few days, weeks and months will tell us whether the government cares to prevent this, or whether it wants to use climate change as a kind of population control.

The government’s priorities have been clear in the way it spends its money and allocates its resources. For example, the AFP budget keeps growing. But what about the budget for the national weather agency PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration)? There were reports a few years back that the budget was actually slashed.

During a report on GMA-7 news last night, PAGASA OIC Nathaniel Cruz said that there was a piece of equipment that could help the agency estimate a typhoon’s potential amount of rainfall (very useful in the case of Ondoy, which poured a month’s worth of rainfall in about five hours)—a Doppler radar. Does PAGASA have this equipment?

No. The national weather agency, the only one that could warn us if we should evacuate because a typhoon will bring a deluge, does not have a Doppler radar. But it’s on its way, clarifies Cruz.

PAGASA, in Filipino, also means “Hope”. Based on how the government seems to prioritize PAGASA, the weather agency, do we have reason to hope?

It was drummed into my head a long time ago that when we use the term “government” in a democracy, we should really refer to ourselves. After all, in a democracy, governance must be by, of and for the people.

So it’s either we’re not really a democracy (because we always stand back and just let a bunch of evil yoyos run things for us) or we’re all just not getting this governance thing right. We’re not governing things the way we should.

It’s raining again. I hope we get our acts together soon.

Philippines Current Events: Coordinating Disaster Is A Disaster For National Disaster Coordinating Councild

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Current Events, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

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.

The NDCC Cannot Coordinate This Disaster

The NDCC Cannot Coordinate This Disaster

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.