Gov’t’s face of disaster risk reduction quits
The familiar face representing the government’s response to disasters has resigned. He was known to lighten the mood in a stormy weather with his funny asides.
Undersecretary Benito Ramos has submitted his resignation to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, as administrator of both the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said Gazmin had accepted Ramos’ resignation and submitted it to President Aquino for a final decision.
In his Jan. 8 resignation letter, Ramos said he wanted to spend more time with his wife who has been suffering from diabetes for the past 20 years.
Ramos has resigned twice for the same reason but Gazmin “prodded [him] to stay on because of the critical nature of his job and his effective handling of it,” Galvez said.
“Because of [Ramos], there is [now] heightened disaster awareness. He has done a lot of preemptive actions that saved lives,” he added.
This time around, Gazmin relented, the DND spokesperson said.
Asked about rumors that Ramos quit because he supposedly bungled his job with regard to Typhoon “Pablo,” Galvez said the NDRRMC executive director was not to blame for the loss of lives in the recent disaster.
“It is a collective government effort when we talk about saving lives. It [involves] coordination among various agencies,” he added.
A high-ranking defense official said the DND was likely to confer an award to Ramos, a retired Army general, who has been the face of the NDRRMC since he assumed his post at the OCD in 2010.
It was during Ramos’ watch when the country was devastated by two strong typhoons, “Sendong” in 2011 and Pablo in 2012, which killed thousands of people in parts of Mindanao.
While manning the NDRRMC operations center days before Typhoon Pablo hit the country in December, Ramos had told reporters that he hoped the weather disturbance would not turn into a calamity because he wanted to spend Christmas with his family.
He was unable to do so the previous year when Tropical Storm Sendong pounded Cagayan de Oro City.
But Ramos’ Christmas plans were scuttled when Pablo turned out to be the most devastating typhoon to hit the country last year.
In fact, the think tank unit of US-based reinsurance broker and capital adviser Aon Benfield described the typhoon as the deadliest catastrophe in the world in 2012 in terms of fatalities. Almost 2,000 people were reported killed in the super typhoon.
Ramos has been at the forefront of disaster preparedness and response since the Arroyo administration, having served as director of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ OCD.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said there was still no official action on Ramos’ resignation.
In a text message to the Inquirer, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang confirmed Ramos’ resignation. “But I don’t think it has been officially accepted yet,” he added.
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