Archive for Typhoon Ketsana

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 South Arts Festival

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 ( 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 (, 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.

Dam If You Do, Dam If You Don’t

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by South Arts Festival

The militant group Bayan said that National Disaster Coordinating Council chief and Secretary of Defense Gilbert Teodoro should also be held accountable for the flooding in Pangasinan.

Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo said, “Teodoro is as accountable as the dam executives. At the minimum, he should have promptly coordinated the timing and volume of the release [of water from San Roque dam] with the possible evacuation of residents and other preparations needed by the affected towns of Pangasinan.”

“It is appaling that he [Teodoro] is clueless on data as basic as the amount of water released by the San Roque Dam,” she added.

The San Roque dam’s critical level is at 290 meters above sea level. Based on available data, water levels already spiked as early as October 4 and continued to rise until October 9. Data from the weather bureau’s website showed that the water levels jumped from 281 meters to 284 meters above see level as early as October 4, and moved up to 289.1 meters from October 6 to October 9.

Had this data been diligently studied, and presented as a serious concern, then an earlier release of water may have brought down the water levels without having it reach the near critical water level of 290 meters. Also, if this information was already available on October 4, then perhaps Pangasinan residents could have been warned and informed for plans to release water from the dam.

At the very least, the effects of the release of so much water from the San Roque dam could’ve been looked into, and preparations could’ve been made to prevent the serious flooding it brought to Pangasinan, which left 80% of the province flooded and underwater. Coupled with the devastating winds and rains brought by typhoon Parma (typhoon Pepeng here in the Philippines), it is no wonder that the consequences were disastrous.

Water Released From San Roque Dam Responsible For Floods Around Rosales Town in Pangasinan Province

Water Released From San Roque Dam Responsible For Floods Around Rosales Town in Pangasinan Province

A similar situation also presented itself during tropical storm Ketsana (Ondoy here in the Philippines), wherein the water levels at the Angat Dam in Bulacan almost reached the critical level of 216 meters above sea level, and had to release its water in the midst of the tropical storm. Some have suggested that the release by the Angat Dam is what is responsibled for the flashfloods that ravaged and killed several people in the province of Bulacan, which includes Meycauayan City and in the towns of Marilao, Bocaue and Sta. Maria.

Of course, while it is necessary for the dams to open their spillways to prevent reaching a critical level where the dam could burst, the big complaint of citizens and a group like Bayan is that there were no announcements made by dam officials about the release of the water.

Malabon City police officer Rommel Habig, whose home was flooded during Ondoy, blames the negligent release of water from the Angat Dam as the cause of the massive flooding.

“There would have been enough time for the people to do what was necessary, if only they [dam officials] made an announcement earlier that the spillways would be opened,” said Habig.

“They issued an advisory only after the flashflood,” he claimed.

Personally,  I feel that dam officials should be accountable for their negligence in not informing the proper authorities about the critical state of the water levels, and not informing the public (especially the citizens who might be affected by the dam release) that the dam would release water.

Lives could’ve been saved and preparations could have been put into place to prevent such a disaster. While the dam officials may have saved the dam from bursting, and causing even more damage, their lack of foresight and initiative to inform those who might be affected is plain irresponsible. Their responsibility to protect the dam and prevent it from bursting should also include a responsibility to protect the citizens who might suffer when the water is relesed.

At the very least, someone should make a public notice, so that a boy might know to avoid swimming in the river because the currents would be stronger. However, without any warning issued by dam officials – the consequences have been very fatal indeed.

Philippine Environment: The Green Agenda Philippines: NOW!

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine Environment with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by South Arts Festival

[The following piece was written and shared by John Paul LAKAN Olivares]

In the past months we have been witness to the awesome power of nature a our inadequacies and failures in addressing environmental issues. This has been capitulated in the damage wrecked upon Metro Manila and the surrounding provinces by Bagyo Ondoy, and the damage to Northern Luzon by Bagyo Pepeng.

We, the concerned citizens of the Philippines, now speak up and decide to take charge of our communities in addressing this most urgent of all matters. From these tragedies we have seen the best of the Filipino people rise in unison for a greater purpose, as they united in light of other recent events (the death of President Corazon Aquino and Bro. Ed Manalo of the INC). Now, we must once again rise up and unite to change the very fabric of society, lest we wait in denial for nature to once again wreak havoc upon our country.

Support The Green Agenda Philippines and Sign Up For The 10 Million Movement Now

Support The Green Agenda Philippines and Sign Up For The 10 Million Movement Now

The Green Agenda Philippines: NOW!

The single most important issue the human race is facing is its own extinction due to effects created by the damage of our natural environment. From pollution to the degradation and loss of natural resources, such practices put to risk the very survival of our people. And if we do not address these concerns immediately, we will face greater effects of Global Warming, the shrinking of resources (famine), wars over food and water, disease brought upon by pollution and mutations, and much more.

No government or even the United Nations can address this problem with a long termed large scale impact, unless whole populations take the initiative to undo the damage and save ourselves.

Today, we, the ordinary Filipino citizens, can no longer deny that our environment is no longer stable due to human disregard, and now threatens the lives of all sectors of society. In this realization, we must take matters into our own hands for a truly community based social-environment peace revolution. This revolution starts now, with the 10 Million Movement, initiated by the Earth Day Network Philippines, as an online petition for people to signify their participation in the environmental awareness movement.

And in this relaunching of the 10 Million Movement, we seek to create a network of people and communities that will reclaim their stewardship of the planet and actively work to create a Green Philippines; and we, the Filipino People, become co-creators of a world that we would truly want to live in, through the process of self-empowerment and collective action.

From this network, we seek to build a new society that breaks the old paradigms of neglect, abuse and conflict; and create a Green Agenda that revolves around a humanist national community with a sustainable socio-economic culture.

From this network, we aim to link environmental organizations with Community and Sectoral Leaders, and develop local eco-friendly cultures through:

  • Conducting Environmental Awareness Education and Community
  • Consultations Developing Sustainable / Profitable Eco-Friendly Livelihood Initiatives
  • Creating Community Waste Segregation and Recycling Programs
  • Initiating Community Stewardship
  • Cleaning and Rehabilitating of local Natural Resources
  • Patronizing Eco-Friendly Products, Services, and Businesses
  • Develop a National Barangay Network, in which communities can share information on best practices and alternative eco-friendly technologies

From this network, we aim to convene all Local Environmental, Humanitarian and Peace Organizations to mount a unified campaign for a Green Philippines through:

  • Holding Eco-Awareness Festivals and Events
  • Conducting Regional and National Environmental Conferences
  • Lobbying for Government Legislation and Participation
  • Developing a National Environmental Council that monitors positive and negative developments, and links the necessary local organization and government agency to address the issue
  • Creating a National Information Portal that allows all members to share information in expertise, best practices, technological development, etc.

From this network, we aim to address the Business Sector and work with them to:

  • Support Environmental Programs as Part of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Develop Eco-Friendly Business Practices
  • Create Profitable Eco-Friendly Products

From this network, we aim to partner with Media and work with them to:

  • Develop Environmental Awareness Programs Support Environmental
  • Organizations and Causes through free (or reduced rate) advertising and media reportage
  • Give reduced rate advertising for Eco-Friendly Products

From this network, we aim to link up with International Environmental Groups and Agencies to:

  • Create a Global Resource Center for Eco-Friendly Community Practices, Business Practices and Technologies
  • Create a Global Resource Center for International Funding for developing Eco-Friendly Community Practices, Business Practices and Technology

From this network, we aim to work with Academic Institutions to:

  • Help develop Curricula that addresses Environmental Awareness
  • Help build programs for students to participate and create their own Environmental Awareness Events
  • Create initiatives for students to develop Technologies, Business Practices and Products that are Eco-Friendly
  • Help construct a network of academic institutions and agencies that will allow information sharing on Eco-Friendly Community Practices, Business Practices and Technologies

From this network, we aim to work with Architectural, Engineering and Scientific Institutions to:

  • Develop technologies and systems that will reduce consumption of natural resources and maximize practical output without pollution
  • Develop technologies and systems that will recycle non-biodegradable waste, including construction material, to reduce consumption of existing natural resources
  • Develop eco-friendly waste disposal technologies and systems to deal with the continuing garbage problem
  • Develop eco-friendly alternative energy sources that will reduce consumption of fossil-based fuels

From this network, we aim to work with Local Government Units to:

  • Develop and support Eco-Friendly Community Programs Help build and support Sustainable Eco-Friendly Business Initiatives
  • Support and participate in Eco-Friendly Events

From this network, we aim to work with National Government to:

  • Create Eco-Friendly Legislations Support and Participate in Eco-Friendly Events
  • Develop a Comprehensive Long-Term Green Philippines Agenda

Now we come to you, not just to sign up for the 10 Million Movement, but to take that great step towards a Green Philippines, and in the future, a 90 Million Strong Filipino Green Revolution by 2012.

Sign up now.

Show Me The Money – Where Will The Money For Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng) Victims Go?

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by South Arts Festival

Typhoons Ketsana (Ondoy here in the Philippines) and Parma (Pepeng here in the Philippines) have caused so much devastation through so much flooding that hundreds of lives were lost, half a million people were rendered homeless, and all sorts of homes, property, agricultural lands and infrastructure were damaged.

There is no doubt that a whole lot of money will be spent on providing rescue and relief for the typhoon victims, and also for the rebuilding and reconstruction following the damage caused by the floods brought by Ketsana (Ondoy) and the other damage brought by Parma (Pepeng). The disaster has certainly brought about much concern from all over the world, which resulted in an outpouring of assistance in order to provide aid to these typhoon victims.

In the Philippines alone, there was a multitude of support to get the wheels of assistance turning. Several foundations, non-government organizations (NGOs) and those in the private sector gathered donations in cash and in kind to provide aid for those who were victimized by the floods and were forced to be displaced from their homes.

Medicines and basic necessities, such as food, water, clothing and toiletries were gathered and distributed at evacuation centers. Of course, a lot of money was also raised through donations both from the Philippines and from the international community.

Now I don’t know what the exact figures are, and I don’t really know who’s diligently keeping a tab on it, but there was definitely a lot of money raised. The combined effort of  television networks in the Philippines  raised approximately some  Php200 million so far. The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) has also collected donations via text and also through Paypal apart from direct cash donations.

The international relief effort has also raised a lot of funds through the likes of Australia, Japan, Germany, European Union, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, Canada and still others. With an average of $1 million being given by each country, the total funds raised could easily reach $10 million.

International organizations have also raised funds for the Ketsana typhoon victims, with the likes of UNICEF, AmeriCares, the Asian Development Bank and more contributing  a combined effort of a few million dollars.

The United Nations has also made an appeal to raise $74 million, and has already allocated $7 million from the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund due to the devastation caused by Typhoon Ketsana and Super Typhoon Parma.

Lots of Funds Raised To Help The Victims, But Where Will It Really Go?

Lots of Funds Raised To Help The Victims, But Where Will It Really Go?

Now – I don’t know the exact sum of how much money was raised to directly help in the relief and rebuilding efforts caused by Ketsana and Parma, but that is definitely a lot of money, and to where does it exactly go?

When funds are donated from the local and international community,to whom is the check addressed to? Where are these funds kept and who is in charge of the disbursement of these funds? Of course, NGOs like the PNRC appropriate their funds for rescue and relief operations, which include the distribution of basic necessities and medical supplies, but then what about the other funds that are outside the reach of the PNRC?

Apparently, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) through DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. (Jun Ebdane) has  claimed that their agency lacked funds in construction projects that could’ve helped flood prevention.

“Our system of mega-dikes, dams and other flood mitigation projects in Metro Manila just couldn’t hold the high volume of water that Ondoy (Ketsana) brought to us. Although we have made plans for more flood mitigation projects ahead of time, funding problems have stalled their immediate implementaton,” explained Ebdane.

Jun Ebdane also suggested that squatters, or informal dwellers, who put up their shanty homes along riverbanks was one of the major causes to blame for the flooding. He cited a recent study conducted by Japan International Cooperation Agency, which said:

“Flooding is becoming a more serious problem in Metro Manila and other flood-prone areas because of the rapid urban expansion, inadequate river channel capacities, and insufficient equipment for maintenance for existing drainage facilities, which have been continiously clogged by squatting and garbage dumping.”

In line with this, the DPWH is now asking for a bigger budget from the international financial aid in order for them to carry out their task in cleaning the drainage systems and the garbage left by Ketsan and Parma.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also going to need funds for their projects in asissting the half a million (or more) that were made homeless by the storm. DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral said that the DSWD continues to provide assistance to the more than 122,00 families affected by typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy). The DSWD has released P22 million from its calamity fund for the purchase of relief goods, composed mostly of food, according to DSWD Public Affairs and Advocacy Division chief Precy Villa.

I’m not very good at math, but P22 million pesos is not even half a million US dollars (at an exchange rate of P48 to $1), and certainly there is supposedly a couple million dollars of funds that can be used to provide more goods, or even better facilities for evacuation centers.

Now – I don’t know where the money is going or how it will be spent, but someone better be a diligent accountant and take note of what is coming in and where it is going out.

The Philippine Senate has already expressed a strong opposition for President Gloria Macapgal-Arroyo‘s decision to declare the entire Philippines under a state of calamity and even extending it to a year. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Senators Noynoy Aquino III, Manny Villar Jr., Mar Roxas II, Chiz Escudero,  Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano warned against the relaxed rules in the disbursement of funds during a state of calamity, which might lead to abuses on the part of the executive branch, specifically with Malacañang, the various government departments, and the local government units.

According to the Senators the entire nation need not be placed under a state of calamity since not all areas were affected by Ketsana (Ondoy) and Parma (Pepeng), such as Mindanao.

The senators also argued that rules during a state of calamity has regarding the disbursement and utilization of funds become more relaxed because of the urgency for their use.

“When you declare that is going to be for a year, there might be calls for augmentation as far as those funds depleted are concerned. (The question is) will all the funds really address the calamity or will be used for something else because the rules have been relaxed?” Senator Noynoy Aquino said.

“I do not want a prolonged state of calamity, because in the same way that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, calamity tends to corrupt.  The longer the declaration of a state of calamity, the longer the corruption,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.

Apart from the corruption, Senators also warned that a year-long state of calamity throughout the entire nation could drive out potential foreign investors, and could create more problems for the country such as job losses and supply shortage.

The Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Federation of Philippine Industries among other business groups were also keen to express that eventually Malacañang might eventually declare a state of emergency and the exercise of police powers.  Yes, something like Martial Law.

Maybe the Makati Business Club et al are getting ahead of themselves with conspiracy theories, but the bottom line is that 122,000 families and over half a million people will need financial aid to help them survive and remain healthy enough for them to get back on their feet again. Definitely, critical operations must be done to also curb the problem of garbage that clogs the drainage systems of major cities in our country, especially in the very congested areas of  the National Capital Region.  Funds must also be appropriated to the restoration of farm lands. Somewhere along the way – I just sincerely hope that the funds (that will amount to millions of dollars) will not be lost in the selfish pockets of those who will be responsible for them.

Viva España

Posted in All About The Philippines, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by South Arts Festival

[The following excerpt is a letter from Ana Ugarte, the Ambassador of the Philippines to Spain]

My dearest Kababayans,

I arrived in Spain to assume my position as Ambassador of the Philippines to Spain last July 23, 2009. I was told that technically I could perform my duties as Ambassador however I wasn’t a full fledged ambassador until I had presented my credentials to the King. That big day was scheduled on Sept 28, 2009..The activities I attended during the weeks that lead up to this day have been significant. These included: my courtesy calls to the Spanish Ministers of Foreign Affairs, A visit to the Feria de Madrid for the gifts fair & meetings with its directors, a visit to the Madrid Stock Exchange & meetings with its directors, a visit to the Museo Naval of San Sebastian where I was the VIP visitor of their ongoing exhibit of the Basques in the Pacific, attendance of a Filipina nun receiving her temporal vows in Burgos…

During this little time I realize how genuinely the Spanish love the Filipinos…They have a sincere “cariño” for our country and people that is indescribable and I have received NOTHING BUT PRAISES. Our OFW’s are treated with respect and in many altercations with Spanish authorities are ALWAYS given the benefit of the doubt. Their childlike enthusiasm for our country & people is fascinating and most heart-warming…

The concern & expression of sadness I have received for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy is beyond belief…The embassy continuously receives calls from people asking where to send donations. This morning I was called by the Directora de la Agencia de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo to officially give us notice that Spain will be sending 1M Euros worth of aid to the Philippines. A cargo plane will be departing tomorrow from the military base at Torrejon. I asked if I could attend to witness the departure and to personally thank those numerous NGO’s involved with the operation…

Spain is the largest donor of development and emergency aid to the Philippines in all of Europe. Yet our kababyans do not know this. We do not see Ambassador Luis Arias photo ops kissing babies or handing over emergency kits to those in need. Spain remains under the radar and does not seek publicity and yet all of their good will remains unnoticed and on the contrary is always the butt of criticism by our politicians.

Spain needs proper public relations and I write this hoping that my friends can assist me in helping a country that deserves a better image. I am open to your suggestions…I would like to send press releases and pictures of all our activities..Please forward them to your contacts in the media…

Que os parece?

My day with the King was one of the most exciting days of my life….

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas….y que…Viva España!!

Un abrazo muy fuerte…