Saturday, October 3, 2009

Was the Impact of Typhoon Ondoy an "Act of God" too?

Ondoy came and went, with catastrophy in its wake. Clearly the typhoon itself was an "act of God." But were the damages unpreventable? Not so, says Urban planner and architect Felino Palafox Jr.
Palafox said a 1977 World Bank-funded study identified Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal area as among development areas that should prepare for flooding, earthquakes and possible changes in topography. (Source: Yahoo! News Philippines)
Such remark was hard to swallow, given the magnitude of heroism displayed by people to save lives of loved ones and to deliver relief goods to those whose lives were ravaged by the flood. In the light of what could have been done in the last 50 years, were those damages, sufferings, and heroisms totally unnecessary then?

Palafox said further ...
"We are always reacting to crisis. It bothered me when I saw these reports and pictures and people are saying it's an act of God. It's not. It's us not following the plans and proposals. If you are an urban planner, an environmental planner, these have been planned as early as 1905," he said. (Source: Yahoo! News Philippines)
Such remark gives you the impression of an incompetent bureaucracy, totally lacking in foresight and leaving peoples lives to the "mercy of God."

I do not see God as lacking in mercy. I only see planners who, in the last 25 to 50 years, had other things filling up their minds. What could have filled up their minds during all those times?

If indeed areas have already been identified as flood and earthquake prone, then such information should be made openly public, not just in the archives of an office in the hands of tired, underpaid and grouchy custodians.

Putting that in public, say in the internet, may create immediate panic in the real estate business, yes. But is exposing the lives of a million people to risk a better alternative to our decision makers?

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