(Image via bardagols on Flickr)
The aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy is turning into a huge disaster. I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of news and I figured I’d try to put it all together here. It’s very disheartening to say the least. Of course, you can’t expect a lot of good news in the middle or immediate aftermath of a disaster, but some of the things that are going on are just ridiculous.
One of the biggest problems right now is that there are vacant homes everywhere. Granted, they have water damage, but there are still valuable items in some of them. Unscrupulous people are taking advantage of this and there is rampant looting in affected areas. These families have already sustained massive damages to their homes, and they’re going to be financially crippled for quite some time. Having their possessions stolen will only make matters worse. Plus, vandals aren’t going to be using the spare key, so there’ll be additional property damage on top of what was caused by the typhoon.
One thing that’s really bothering me is reports of politicians “branding” the relief packages with their faces and names. This practice is common in the Philippines. Every time there is road construction, or some new public facility is being built, politicians waste plenty of citizens’ tax money to put up huge billboards describing the work in progress, the responsible politician’s name, and more often than not that politicians face, or even a family portrait. Is that really necessary? Everyone knows who was elected to serve in that region, so it should be plain who backed the roadwork or the new construction. Putting up all of those billboards is a waste of funds that could be put to better use in a country that is, on a normal day, already struggling to keep afloat economically. Now, after this huge disaster, when so many people are suffering, the politicians aren’t worried about providing relief. They’re worried about advertising and branding. It’s fucking disgusting. They have no sense of propriety. This is not the place or time for that sort of thing. What’s even worse is these packages aren’t being provided by those politicians. It’s being provided by multiple donations from all around the world. The politicians are repacking it and putting their name on it, as if they paid for it all themselves.
Many Filipinos are also claiming that relief goods are only being handed out when media is present, and not before, nor after. It’s as if this whole tragedy has become a platform for politicians to advertise themselves. How heartless is that? Rather than focussing on what’s important, they’d rather use it as an opportunity to try to ensure they get reelected.
Here’s a news flash. It was partially through failure on the part of elected officials that this disaster happened in the first place. Lack of awareness campaigns to reduce pollution, lack of announcing the impending disaster, lack of rescue personnel and equipment, lack of funds. Lack of leadership.
This raises the issue of government misuse of public funds, most notably the Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, and her huge expenditure of approximately 1 million Philippine Pesos in New York City for a dinner. Personally, I hope that this causes a shift in the right direction in Philippine politics where there is more accountability of where and how money is being spent.
The icing on the cake is that another tyhpoon, named Pepeng in the Philippines and internationally known as Parma , is expected to make landfall tonight Friday night, and only 1/4 of the rainfall produced by Ondoy will be required to recreate flash flood conditions. Oh, and Pepeng is a stronger typhoon than Ondoy was.
I’ll be keeping the Philippines in my thoughts and prayers tonight. Good luck guys.