Quantcast
Latest Stories

Get Real

Pablo and Pabillo

By

In the aftermath of tropical storm “Sendong” last year, with its death toll of close to 1,500, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) fell under heavy criticism for its failure to complete and/or distribute its geohazard maps that classify areas according to low, moderate, or high susceptibility to floods, flashfloods and landslides. Well, no one can blame the DENR now. Early this year, it reportedly distributed the maps to every city, municipality, and province in the country, and made these accessible to the general public in its website.

Comes now typhoon “Pablo,” whose arrival was announced well in advance. And the fatalities, if not as many as Sendong, are over the 300-mark, and could even reach over 700 if the people reported missing turn up dead.  Tragedy, indeed. And an even greater tragedy, if one considers that most of those deaths could have been avoided—had the local governments, already forewarned, done their jobs, including, where necessary, forced evacuations.

Take the province of Compostela Valley (Governor: Arturo Uy; 2010 population: 667,000), specifically one of its hardest-hit municipalities, New Bataan (Mayor: Lorenzo Balbin; population: 45,000). How many were killed in New Bataan? The report I read quoted a figure of 101, which means about one-third of the current total death toll of Pablo.

Apparently, there were existing maps in 2003 that showed the impact of climate change on Compostela Valley, including the possibilities of flooding, landslides, and drought. No one paid heed. In any case, engineer Leo Jasareno, director of the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau, noted that the geohazard map of Compostela Valley shows that several areas (including those in New Bataan) were already classified as “no man’s land.” The meaning of the term is literal: No one should be living in those areas, precisely because these are prone to floods and landslides. But no one paid attention, apparently.  Not the local officials, not the residents.

Not even when Pablo’s impending arrival was announced, which should have sent these officials and residents scrambling. Thus the large death toll. In areas that heeded the advisories, according to Jasareno, such as Surigao Norte and Sur as well as Cagayan de Oro City (I guess it learned its lesson the hard way), casualties had been kept at a minimum.

Contrast the situation of Compostela Valley with that of Albay Governor Joey Salceda has by and large achieved Albay’s objective of “zero casualties,” in spite of the fact that his province is squarely in the path of typhoons that visit the country with great regularity (the Philippines has the dubious distinction of being the country ravaged by the biggest number of natural disasters in 2011—33 of them, including Sendong), not to mention that it is under constant threat of volcanic eruptions. One wonders where Governor Uy of Compostela Valley was when Salceda convened summits of local government officials—three of them—which resulted in commitments of local government officials to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in development programming.

I don’t know which is worse: having local government officials who ignore, if not actively participate in, the scamming of their people by Ponzi schemes, or having local government officials who take such a cavalier stance when it comes to their people’s lives. And in this case, let’s face it, the blame lies not on the national government, but on the local government. (Would you believe that the New Bataan municipality located its evacuation center squarely in the path of the predicted flooding? Why? The reason they gave was that it was in the town center, as if being in the town center would automatically exempt it from nature’s wrath.)

And speaking of nature’s wrath, an explanation has just been offered by one of our good bishops—Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo—which will probably rank as one of the most ill-advised remarks made by the Church hierarchy in recent times. It is positively anachronistic—something that perhaps would have been acceptable during the time of Galileo. And so totally out of sync with a God whose love passeth all understanding.

The good bishop, and I use the term “good” with utmost sincerity, because Bishop Pabillo’s record in the pursuit of social justice is otherwise impeccable, declared in a much-quoted interview over Radio Veritas that Pablo and its wake could be (he at least was not categorical, but that’s a  consuelo  de  bobo) a message from God not to further consider the Reproductive Health bill, or a punishment from Him for doing so.

Let’s look at the implication of Bishop Pabillo’s speculation. It means that we have a wrathful God, rather than a loving God or a God who is synonymous with love. It also means that not only do we have a wrathful God, but one who is not just. While He presumably is angry with, in particular, those legislators and others who are advocating for the RH bill, He directs his punishment randomly at others—the 325 or so who died, the other 300 who are missing, not to mention the damage to infrastructure and to livelihood.

If God was angry with the RH bill and its advocates, why not a lightning strike at Malacañang, or at the House of Representatives while in session? Does that mean that maybe our Divine Master is losing it?

Methinks Bishop Pabillo has unwittingly done his Master (and mine) a great disservice. And himself, too.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: disaster , Typhoon Pablo




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  3. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  4. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  8. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  9. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
Advertisement

News

  • 4 Etihad passengers not yet located
  • DAR to complete installation of Luisita land reform beneficiaries in May
  • Ex-COA chief and co-accused in Arroyo plunder case nabbed
  • Kris Aquino’s ex- close in security named new Air Force chief
  • The ‘link diagram’ that killed ex-Bataan police officer
  • Sports

  • NLEX holds off Jumbo Plastic for a playoff berth
  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Lifestyle

  • A haven for steak lovers
  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Tiff with HK over Luneta hostage fiasco finally over
  • DOLE sees more Filipinos hired by South Koreans
  • Filipinos second-shortest in Southeast Asia
  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement