We welcome the news about the plan of Davao City to put up an AM/FM radio broadcast station to serve as the main vehicle for disseminating information relative to emergencies that may hit the place.
The anchor unit that is to be tasked to man the radio station and spread information on potential emergency situations or any on-going one, including the daily traffic gridlock, is most likely the City Information Office (CIO) in close coordination with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) now headed by retired Police Official Alfredo Baluran.
Yes, many columns ago we broached the idea that if the city government is to be effective in educating the public on anything about disasters or those that could result to such, and the role that community residents play to mitigate the impact of such undesirable phenomena, or perhaps prevent these from happening, is through the broadcast media.
But this cannot be done if the information, education and communication (IEC) programs and projects be undertaken through privately operated, commercial radio or television stations. Why, because except for news-worthy activities and public service pronouncements, all others that the city would want to reach the consciousness of the people need to be paid on a per minute basis. So, the local government has to have a continuing annual budget for the purpose.
Of course operating a radio station would mean an even bigger budgetary requirement for the city. This is because the local government has to buy broadcast equipment, and hire people to run the station and prepare its day-to-day programming.
But the positive take for the city in having its own AM/FM broadcast station is that it has the flexibility in allocating the time for IEC activities all to itself depending on the need of the situation. Moreover, the broadcast media has the widest coverage in terms of its reach to the communities of the city. The bigger the power given by regulators to the broadcast station’s transmitter the farther its reach can go.
There is also no arguing that the bigger portion of Davao City is rural and mostly upland communities. But what is a given is that every household has a radio set because this is the most widely used means of entertainment and source of information for residents in off-grid areas.
We are hoping that this planned broadcast facility will get the support of our local lawmakers and the city leadership. This is a noble project and the benefits that it can give to the people and the city of Davao in general, are clear and can already be visualized even this early when the project is still in the proposal stage.
Even before our Cebuano language column came out last Saturday, June 23, our son Sacha who is on board an ocean-going fuel tanker vessel owned and operated by a Denmark-based company, contacted us again through video communication.
This time it was our son who opened the issue on the ramming of a big Chinese fishing vessel on our small wooden fishing banca that was on anchor at a shallow portion of the Recto Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
There were two things that he took up with us in relation to the incident last June 9, 2019. First was on the possibility that the people manning the bigger Chinese vessel did not see the anchored motorized fishing boat of the Filipinos.
Our son reiterated his earlier hunch that the Chinese crew may not have seen the light in the Pinoys’ boat because of either misty weather in the area, or the position of the boat vis-a-vis the direction of the route of the Chinese vessel.
Second, and which is likely the possibility, is what our son told us that the Filipino fishing vessel may not have registered in the radar of the bigger Chinese fishing ship, or it may have registered in the radar screen when it was already too close to execute a maneuver to avoid hitting the other vessel.
This is because, according to our son, objects floating on seas that are wooden or made mostly of lumber, are not easily picked up by radars unlike floating metal objects.
Thus, in the case of the Recto Bank incident, there is that possibility that the Chinese vessel was able to notice the Philippine vessel only when it was impossible for the former to evade the latter. And our son believes that only an in-depth probe of the incident by a United Nation-sanctioned body can validate the correctness or error of the hunch.
But regardless of the circumstances leading to the incident, for us what is incontrovertible is the fact that the Chinese vessel abandoned the crew who were doing everything they could to survive their ordeal at sea.
As to the compensation of the victims as well as the destroyed vessel, a 3rd party investigation may be needed. The result could be use to make the insurance companies of both vessels pay what is due in accordance with the provisions in the insurance policy. That is, if both vessels are insured. But if they are not, then we believe the best option is for both parties to talk among themselves through the initiative of their respective governments.