Last month, two weather disturbances hit the region and displaced families, particularly those living in the so-called calamity-prone areas.
Among the hard hit areas were Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley. Even some areas in the city were not spared, particularly those that were always exposed to floods and landslides.
One sad story was the one in Compostela Valley, strong currents swept a 12-year old girl to her death as based on the report, the girl, who was then doing laundry when a rampaging river hit the province, was trying to save the clothes she was washing.
In many reports, there were also residents who refused to leave their homes when local government units sounded the alarm as they were either complacent that the floods would never reach them, or that they feared that some people might take advantage of the situation and steal their belongings.
Of course, the retort of some officials is that some residents living in areas prone to disasters are hard-headed as they do not heed calls of preventive evacuation and sometimes defy order of forced evacuation. Although there is reality to this – and that they can always be used as scapegoats in case of failure to save some of them – the government, as the main apparatus in ensuring that these people do not suffer much from disasters, must use it resources in a more proactive way.
For example, which among the local government units in the Davao Region have come up with a comprehensive program that ensures people do not live in riverbanks and other areas prone to disasters? How many of them make sure that housing projects are not established on top of river ways?
It is time for local government units to assert their authorities to ensure that their constituents are living in safer zones. Also, they must protect these people from unscrupulous individuals who try to make a killing by exposing them to danger.
This is their primary mandate.
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