What follows after major disasters such as the triple whammy that hit the country last week are the blame game, buck passing and finger pointing. And the usual culprits: illegal logging and indiscriminate mining operations.
How to mitigate or altogether eliminate the costly and deadly repercussions of major disasters that occur on a regular basis in our country has been a big challenge to our officials.
Lately, Mr. Duterte has created a new group using the fancy phrase “Build Back Better” Task Force which was necessary, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, because the effects of the destructive typhoons that hit the country every year require “intervention that involve a whole of government approach and immediate solutions outside of the bureaucratic framework.”
Haven’t we heard this argument before: to consolidate government efforts in pinpointing responsibility so that people can be spared of misery and deprivation and death in yet another deluge?
And what about the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the tongue-twisting agency (it used to be the easily pronounceable National Disaster Coordinating Council or NDCC until some factotums of President Aquino invented the NDRRMC)? The NDRRMC has announced that it will also look into the causes of the flooding and come up with its own recommendations. Is there no overlapping of functions here?
What we are seeing is not dissimilar to the numbers game “jueteng.” From time to time, it reappears in the news. In Tagalog, we have a colorful term for this: “parang sakit ng tiyan, pasumpong-sumpong.”
This is exactly what is happening now in the aftermath of the recent calamity.
On top of what the task force and the NDRRMC are doing, we also have both houses of Congress that have announced their own separate hearings to look into what had happened and what measures to adopt to prevent the recurrence of such a disaster.
The twin concerns—illegal logging and unmitigated mining operations—are within the scope and responsibility of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Thus, the DENR should explain why for so long it has not been able to go after illegal loggers and mining firms that are guilty of wholesale violations of our environmental laws. Indeed, it is about time that these people should be put behind bars.