POSTSCRIPT / December 22, 2011 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noy’s probity amazing: Probe rito, probe roon!

DISMAL AIR: Tatlong tulog na lang, Pasko na!

Three days to go till Christmas, and here we are fidgeting in the dismal air, the hard times, the unrelenting political hounding, and the dead piling up in Sendong-hit Mindanao while survivors scrounge around for anything to last the day.

Who is to blame for the Sendong tragedy? Not me, a smiling President Noynoy Aquino implied as he explained that his administration just inherited (minana lang) the geohazard problem. Some of us thought we have seen the tapering off of the Blame Game. Hindi pa pala!

We are, of course, just echoing here the flurry of observations and comments cluttering the Internet media.

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MR. PROBE: Another observation is that Mr. Aquino’s “PROBITY” is awe-inspiring. He improvisesdaw from one probe to another probe when disturbing accountability problems crop up. (“Probity” is in capitals to call attention to it, and in quotes to say it is just alleged.)

The President has ordered another of those endless probes to determine who should be held responsible for the apparently inadequate preparation for the deadly onslaught of tropical storm Sendong (international name: Washi).

But whatever is reported back to him, the current chief of the weather bureau stays. He is safely ensconced in his office as he is not an appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo. Aquino appointees can do no wrong.

Somebody who has the patience may want to make a scorecard on the Aquino probes, beginning with the Luneta hostage-taking fiasco, to include the recommendations, action taken, and whose head had rolled.

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BLAME GAME: Actually, if President Aquino is looking for someone/something to blame for the Sendong tragedy, he can dip into his thick Blame Folder.

But since the Little Girl and Big Chief Justice are already overused as excuses, he can safely pull out another scapegoat — “Climate Change” — as the reason for Nature’s wrath raining down on Mindanao and ruining the partying in the capital.

Quirky weather is a credible culprit. Mindanao gets visited by a stray storm only once every 20 years or so. Mr. Aquino can say that Sendong’s suddenly mauling the place was totally unexpected.

This variation of the Blame Game, btw, is like that of a lazy doctor who is poor in diagnosis telling a patient that his wobbly feeling or occasional pains are due to Stress.

Stress has become a prominent item in the almanac of causes of ailments. When asked about the cause, some lazy doctors say it is due to stress and then advise the patient to rest, sleep early, eat well, exercise and not worry too much. Consultation costs P800-P1,000, without receipt.

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SOLICITATION SPREE: Nobody has come up with a total total of the cost of rescuing and caring for Sendong victims, giving a decent burial to the dead now counted at about 1,000, rehabilitating the devastated area, relocating survivors and starting them off on a new life.

Everybody everywhere is now raising funds, we can imagine including fly-by-night fast operators. There should be some way of coordinating this big disjointed effort.

What is the law on solicitation for charity and other worthy causes? Is registration necessary? How much of the collection is the solicitor allowed to retain or use for administrative expenses?

Many times we wonder how much of a P100 donation actually reaches the supposed beneficiary. It might be impolitic to ask these questions while everybody is busy helping out, but considering the flawed milieu I think the question is both proper and timely.

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GOV’T LEAD: Cash donations from the private sector, including sources abroad, will ease to some extent the financial burden of the government, but do not free it of its primary responsibility for relief and rehabilitation.

The government should, in fact, take the lead. It should move faster and on larger scale than the private sector, which includes established non-government relief agencies.

Without waiting, the President can draw at least an initial billion pesos from his discretionary, social and intelligence funds, without denting the war chest being built up for the coming elections and related special operations.

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THERE’S MONEY: The administration can also tap the more than P22 billion being reserved for CCT (conditional cash transfer) dole-outs. Calamity victims needed help yesterday, not tomorrow or some far-off election campaign period.

If just half of the whopping lobby money being poured into pushing the approval of the Reproductive Health bill were diverted to helping Sendong victims, the funding requirements of rehabilitation would be practically covered up.

Conscience-stricken congressmen as well as those truly motivated by love of fellowmen have donated, I heard, P20,000 each from their allowances and/or multimillion-peso pork barrel allocations.

Some senators have issued press releases proclaiming sympathy and offering prayers for calamity victims.

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GEOHAZARD MAPS: Thank God it is true that the government has geohazard maps of the stricken area. Probably unaware of this resource showing localities’ risk of floods and rain-induced landslides, Social Welfare Dinky Soliman earlier said there was urgent need to draw up such maps.

For the information of the secretary as well as taxpayers who have Internet access, these maps of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can be accessed at http://www.mgb.gov.ph/.

For other hazards, such as for active faults, liquefaction and tsunami, go to http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/, the website of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Ready multi-hazard maps for 13 provinces are available for download at http://www.namria.gov.ph/readyMapsResultFrame.htm.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 22, 2011)

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