“We need it like yesterday.”
With the start of the rainy season, the country will again go through the never-ending cycle of calamities and disasters which because of climate change can get worse, costing more lives, livelihood, homes, agriculture and infrastructure.
And yet, Santa Banana, we don’t seem to do anything about it!
In the 18th Congress, the much awaited, much needed, urgent and critical Department of Disaster Resilience has yet to be enacted. Why, when we all realize its urgency ? In fact, we need the DDR like yesterday.
Yes, there is the NDRRMC, an ad hoc body under the Department of National Defense, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, already devolved into regional, provincial, city and municipal, which becomes in charge for every rescue, relief and rehabilitation or the 3 Rs.
If I am not mistaken, the DDR has long been pending in the Senate, and yet it has not been enacted. Yes, my gulay, the Department of Migrant Workers, to protect our 8 to 9 million OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers, is now an agency. And yet, it does seem that the Senate does not realize the need for a DDR for a calamity and disaster-prone country like the Philippines. My gulay, because of climate change, it gets much worse every year.
Like what I said, every year, our country is hit by disaster and calamities, like floods, landslides, typhoons and cyclones, storm surges etc., and yet the Senate does not seem to realize the need for a permanent body like a DDR.
I cannot emphasize the urgency of a DDR which should be a permanent body, ever ready and with sufficient budget to act immediately to rescue, give relief and rehabilitation when the occasion demands it. There is also the urgent need for a permanent body to focus on the need to locate disaster-prone areas like landslides and storm surges which occur, a critical body to study and for us to act before they happen, to save lives, to save livelihood, and prevent the devastation when and where they often occur, the critical need to study and focus on the need before they happen to save lives, mitigate destruction of livelihood, agriculture and infrastructure.
It would do well for incoming President Bongbong Marcos upon assumption of office to prioritize the immediate enactment of a DDR.
Every time a calamity or disaster hits the country, be it floods, landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, rescue, relief and rehabilitation is often much-delayed because of the need of funds. A permanent DDR which has a budget does not have to depend on foreign and private assistance. It’s indeed pitiful after a disaster or calamity to see evacuees dumped in temporary shelters, awaiting assistance, begging for relief from the government.
And lastly, with the creation of a DDR, permanent evacuation centers should be built instead of having evacuees dumped in school buildings and government gyms and basketball courts. It is pitiful to see photos of evacuees huddled in gyms and basketball courts and school buildings, without much-needed facilities like toilets and eating areas.
With the commitment of incoming President Bongbong Marcos to continue Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, it would do well for Bongbong to be told beforehand that there are four elements in a holistic war on illegal drugs — prevention, lawful enforcement of laws on illegal drugs, prosecution of those caught in possession of illegal drugs and the most important of all, rehabilitation.
President Duterte’s approach to his war on illegal drugs by killing everybody, including drug users and drug addicts, could only result in a culture of impunity and extra-judicial killings, forgetting that drug users and drug addicts are the victims. Duterte’s war on illegal drugs could only result in EJKs or extra-judicial killings. Despite all the killings that resulted in Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, illegal drugs, mainly shabu coming from China, continued to be smuggled to the Philippines. It’s truly tragic that even with the COVID-19 pandemic, reports have it that billions of pesos worth of shabu continued to proliferate throughout the archipelago. My gulay, with some 8 to 9 million drug users and addicts, the demand is great. And when there is demand, the syndicates and cartels are there to supply the demand. This is where the need for community-based centers comes in.
Why community rehab centers? In the rehabilitation of drug users and addicts, the support of parents and family is needed. Rehabilitation of drug users and addicts needs experts, like psychologists and psychiatrists because drug users and drug addicts suffer a lot from psychological stress. This stress forces them to resort to drugs.
In Duterte’s war on drugs, while police records show that only some 6,000 have been killed by the police since Duterte assumed office, unofficial estimates claim that some 28,000 have been killed as a result of EJKs or extra-judicial killings.
It is for this reason why incoming President Bongbong should prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users and drug addicts in his war on illegal drugs, for so long as there is demand for illegal drugs, so long will illegal drugs continue to enter the country, most of them illegally through corrupt agencies, like Customs. Bongbong must realize that illegal drugs is a multi-million dollar industry worldwide, often corrupting government people.
It is for this reason why I suggest to the incoming President to prioritize rehabilitation of drug users and addicts to make them useful citizens. Bongbong Marcos should learn from the mistakes of his predecessor.
With the need to jumpstart Philippine economic recovery after almost three years of the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the country to its knees because of recession, the need for an honest man with integrity and competence whom the business community and investors can believe in as Finance secretary is a must.
There is likewise a need for competence and a man of honesty and integrity to lead the DND, especially at this time when China has become a threat to the Philippines. Considering the fact that the military must be led by someone who is fully aware of the threat to national security and its implications, indeed a secretary of National Defense must hit the ground running.
To me, both the DOF and the DND are most critical at the moment.