It’s a new day. Falcon has left the nation, and the Sun is finally shinning. We now begin to pickup the pieces. The realization that now needs to take place is this. We need to be masters of the rain.
In the aftermath of Falcon, there was a running debate between Palace spokesperson @abi_valte and Congresswoman @mitosmagsaysay. The former in her capacity as the Voice of the Palace. The latter in her capacity as Congresswoman Arroyo’s proxy. It was a spirited debate on flood control. Ms. Valte argued that in the 9 years of GMA, there was no sort of Flood Control program. Magsaysay argued that in the year Aquino was in power, the government did nothing.
This is the beauty of democracy after all. We have a discussion of the issues. We see the differences of ideas, and differences of opinion and philosophy.
Ms. Valte’s arguments are sound. Nine years of the former regime and this is where the nation find itself in. Picking up pieces of the puzzle, and trying desperately to put it all together. At times it would be like the seems are falling apart. And often, failing miserably.
Pick one branch of government to be its poster boy, and you would find a microcosm of the entire government. Spratlys? Just look at the Philippine Navy’s flagship? Social Media? If you people only know how Team @govph and the guys from DOST are managing to keep servers together, those people ought to have an award. It goes on and on, from education to healthcare to local government to police.
I would imagine the Philippines to be the Millennium Falcon. A hunk of junk on the inside and the outside. It is a miracle it flies. And it flies because underneath all the politics, there are still brave men and women in government keeping the cogs running.
Ms. Magasaysay has a point too. In the last year of the Aquino government, why is there still flooding in Metro Manila, and elsewhere? And this is the trust of the government’s critics. They seem to say, “You guys are this good, and you make the rest of us look bad (i.e. GMA), why aren’t things better?” It is the same old trust: be better. Rebuild it. And yet they too fall short. All they have are complaints and no solutions. It would be great that as they critic government for its in action they give a counter-proposal. What has Congress done lately for flood control, Ms. Magsasysay?
To a degree, these critics have a point. To a degree. The last year hasn’t been perfect. One of the biggest hurdles this government hasn’t been able to overcome, what I call, Bureaucratic inertia. We have to overcome, gravity. There is an escape velocity momentum that needs to be reached, and in some degree, it hasn’t, couldn’t or the government forced itself not to.
One of the reasons I’ve observed in the last year as to why Government purposely forced itself not to overcome this inertia is because of a strict adherence to law. It can not simply stop doing things because it is a good idea to. There is a long litany of laws and statures that could prevent it from doing so. The government can not just break the law. And this is gravity at work.
So you will find in many instance, the Aquino government has purposely slowed things down. Whether it is spending or awarding contracts, or executing a plan. It is slow, and excruciating.
Looking back at Ms. Magsaysay’s argument that the government hasn’t done much in the past year. In the issue of Weather? And response?
@MMDA has done for example a remarkable job at handling the event. Yes, the city sank, but these people were communicating with the public tirelessly over the last few days. They have responded to events professionally.
PAGASA has radically changed in the year Aquino was swept in power. We do get updates, and we do get forecasts. They are now more communicative with the public. Yes, there are issues. PAGASA has still great difficulty translating the information they get into layman’s language. What I’ve observed is that this isn’t just a PAGASA issue. Most of the local weather forecasters like typhoon2000.com send us a whole litany of data. We still need to get these people to be able to communicate to the public in non-scientific terms. To simplify the information. I think is is more about getting scientists to communicate.
PAGASA sensors have been doing a good job. It isn’t perfect by far. And there are still loads of issues that need to be addressed. The issue of rainfall prediction hasn’t been addressed. Whether this is a matter of lacking the equipment to properly do the job, or lack of qualified personnel to do so, I do not know. My point is, PAGASA has come a long way.
There is a wealth of difference between Government’s response to Ondoy, and the Government’s response to Falcon. And there is a wealth of difference in the response to the flooding in Mindanao and the damage in the nation’s capital.
The one in Manila seemed to be being handled rather well. The disaster in Cotabato, the impression is the response has been slow. Whether it is because the news hasn’t been explosive, or because gravity in Mindanao is far, far more powerful, I do not know.
The talk on flood control for Metro Manila is a complex beast. It has been the topic of discussion for years. I believe the solution is a myriad different things.
First, and very importantly is the social context. No amount of technology is going to work unless we the people stop clogging our sewers with Garbage. There now has to be a consensus among people living in our cities to dispose of our garbage properly. There has to be a better way to dispose of this garbage and it must be an intercity solution. For Metro Manila, it can not simply be Quezon City doing one thing, or Makati doing another thing. It has to be a consensus.
Second, I think our cities really need to adhere to strict building permits and analyze weaknesses in Metro Manila. @mlq3 did an Ondoy portmortem in which he pointed out a study in 2003 an vulnerabilities for the nation’s capital. This is something local government should do, and ought to be doing. This isn’t limited to Metro Manila, but elsewhere, and throughout the country. It is time to step up. This is, I argue something they, and we can do without having to look to the National government to save us.
Third, of course is the technology. What can flood control be doing. What should we do with our dams, and how do we get decent water into the city, and still irrigate our countryside without relying heavily on our dams.
The Issue of “flood control”, is a complex beast that tackles not just Metro Manila’s issues, but also the areas surrounding it. The matter of our dams, and irrigation is something that ought to be addressed and it is our long term planning that need to be put in place.
This is an issue that touches base with so many people. The answers are complex. Yet, we can do it as communities. It has to start with communities. If for so many years, our nation has relied on the national government to save our collective asses, now is the time that each community can take it upon themselves to start that processes. It is this culture of Bayanihan on the ground that we have to instill and practice.
To critic the government is one thing. It is easy to critic someone, to be a backseat driver. So as much as I respect Ms. Magsaysay and Ms. Arroyo’s and the government’s critics, they should back it up with counterproposals and solutions. Not just appealing to people’s fears. And not just Magasaysay and Arroyo, the whole of us who critic the government. The simple snide cynical, and often bitter comments are no longer enough. It isn’t enough anymore to say, “PNoy, you suck! Or Ganun talaga si PNoy, isang tamad na presidente or Ah, that’s because he spends his time dating.”
That is the gospel of old.
That’s not enough anymore. It just makes people irrelevant. So, “With or without you”, would the nation go?
“Sleight of hand, and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait without you
With or without you
With or without you
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you”
Could we blame Gloria Arroyo? In a way she carries that blame having been in power for Nine years, but generations before could be blamed too. The problems we are facing now is indicative of who we are as a nation. We haven’t been the deep, forward looking people. Call this our coming of age. Now comes the time when we grow up, and build a nation.
I think this is a better song to describe where we are as a nation.
This is the day after Falcon. The sun is shinning. Now, we march forward into nation building. And nation building isn’t simply about complaining about how the government sucks. It’s what you can do for your country. It’s a Beautiful Day.