WE commiserate with the people of New Bataan in Davao de Oro, the town most adversely affected by the 5.9 magnitude earthquakes last Sunday afternoon. And mind you, the temblor came in barely three hours apart. The first shake was at around 2:00 pm while the second one was shortly before 5 in the same Sunday afternoon. What simple structure, as we assume most of the residential and even commercial buildings are in rural municipalities like New Bataan, can withstand the 5.9 magnitude especially when these are sitting on top of a fault line known by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs) for a long time already?
When the dust of the crumbling buildings settled down and the counting was completed, over 200 structures were totally destroyed and several others partially damaged. Public buildings like schools, the municipal hall, and even the town market were ordered to be temporarily off-limits to people pending evaluation of their structural integrity by the Municipal engineer’s office in cooperation with private volunteer engineers from the town.
Classes were suspended and work in the local government as well as in private businesses has to be done in selective services in the most careful manner so as to avoid the possibility of getting victimized by the quakes’ aftermath.
As the ultimate measure to be able to respond to the needs of the people of New Bataan and for the local government to maximize the use of resources normally tapped during calamities, the Municipal government declared New Bataan as a town under a State of Calamity just the other day.
If our recollection serves us right last Sunday’s earthquakes were the second and third to hit the Province of Davao de Oro this year. All three quakes were attributed to the movement of the fault that traverses across the province of gold.
Knowing that the recent 7.9 magnitude earthquake that devastated Turkeyie in Asia Minor and Syria in the Middle East, we are certain that in the minds of the local officials in the province and in the towns known to be sitting on top of the fault line are the grim scenarios reminiscent of the two countries’ biggest disaster so far.
So, what are the measures the local officials can resort to given the present condition of their province and municipalities? Simply they know that they cannot ask the Almighty to relocate the fault line or persuade any institution or agency in government to have their towns transferred to another location. They are stuck right there with hardly any chance to escape the devastation should a “big one” happen in that earthquake-threatening fault line.
We can only see a few doable measures that the local officials can resort to and are compliable by the people of Davao de Oro. One is making it mandatory for people wanting to build their homes or erect structures in any of the towns in that province to comply with the specifications of the Building Code so as to make their buildings earthquake resilient. Another is for the LGUs to declare certain radius from the fault line as a “No Build Zone.” And since an earthquake is one natural disastrous phenomenon that cannot be predicted when and where to happen and its damage is dependent on how strong its intensity, then the only best thing that can be done is for the local officials in Davao de Oro to introduce programs that can mitigate the damage of the quake whether in terms of properties or lives that could possibly be lost.
So disaster management and response training and down-to-the barangay orientations are a must. The LGU also needs to equip their responders with the appropriate response skills; provide upgraded equipment for them. The LGUs may have to tap manpower from the various small mining operators in that province. They are known to have the guts to go under when they themselves undertake rescue operations when the mine tunnels they work with collapsed in the past.
Unfortunately for some municipal government in the province, upgrading rescue equipment, and even conducting massive trainings and orientation are among their nebulous dreams. What with their limited resources to foot the bills for the purpose?
But it is something worth serious consideration to give preference in the utilization of LGU finances to where the projects’ purpose is to save the lives of the constituency and the further diminution of financial and material resources when disasters happen.
After all, is it not beyond arguing that the recovery from calamities and the rebuilding process of society and economy are lot more expensive endeavors than preventing or mitigating the impact of a humongous destruction after a strong earthquake.
We were amused reading the column Mindanao Insider of our friend and Davao media colleague Vir Vermudez which posed the question, To whom will Senator Raffy Tulfo be “Tulfoed” should there be anyone who feels aggrieved with his antics in the Senate or in his well-followed television program?
Tulfo who is now a senator and one of the most garrulous in the Senate seems unable to decide where to place himself. Personally we observed that he is too hesitant to abandon his being a broadcast journalist to make himself a full-time senator. He is not even abandoning his television public affairs program where he supposedly helps the downtrodden and disadvantaged people. In the same television program Tulfo praises to high heavens what he believes are good deeds of certain people mostly government officials who he thinks are conducting their work fairly.
But Tulfo’s language is vile when he calls anyone names because their acts do not agree to his perception. And he uses the same tactic in branding anyone who is invited in the Senate supposedly to be “resource” persons in hearings conducted by the Upper House “in aid of legislation.”
The latest we hear of this Tulfo brand of shaming invitees in Senate hearing was when the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) executives were asked to appear in a Senate hearing on the issue of implementing the Jeep Transport Modernization Program.
Senator Tulfo casually called the guests from the LTFRB and the agency itsel as, “Mga walang hiya kayo diyan sa LTFRB.”
We thought the Senate is peopled with educated, respectful, sane and fair individuals who are willing to set aside anger and dismay in order to get the necessary inputs from the “resource persons” for the crafting of relevant and responsive legislation.
And no one seems courageous enough in the Senate to call the attention of Senator Raffy for his actuations for fear of being “Tulfoed”?
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