MANILA BULLETIN OPINION

BY LEANDRO DD CORONEL: IS PNoy OUT FOR REVENGE?

Is it out of revenge when the leader of the nation goes after people suspected of serious wrongdoing? Or is it an attempt to change society for the better by cleansing it of undesirable elements and putting in place lasting reforms? There seems to be a school of thought out there that President Aquino has been going after current or former officials who allegedly abused their positions because he has a grudge against those people. Past government officials, chiefly former Pres. Gloria Arroyo, are on the dock for alleged crimes that revolve mainly around abuse of power. And currently, of course, three senators are detained for the alleged crime of plunder, stemming from the now-infamous pork-barrel scam. Sundry government officials and a few private individuals have been implicated in the pork scam. Its alleged chief operator, Janet Napoles, is also in detention. In 2012, the country’s chief magistrate, was impeached, convicted, and ousted from office for not declaring all of his assets, some of which allegedly were ill-gotten. According to some commentary, the Aquino administration has done all these because he wanted to exact revenge on the people involved.

Mrs. Arroyo, for withdrawing the security detail for the president’s mother, former Pres. Cory Aquino. Isn’t this too petty a reason for PNoy to haul Mrs. Arroyo off to court and keep her in detention for a long period of time now? Is Mr. Aquino really that petty and vengeful? Chief Justice Renato Corona for allegedly being a stooge of President Arroyo and who would have done everything to get her off the hook no matter how many cases the current administration might have thrown at her? Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla principally for being in the opposition and supposedly as being a threat to Aquino’s chosen candidates in 2016 and his plans to dominate Philippine politics for a long time beyond his term?

Ergo doesn’t know Mr. Aquino and cannot fathom what’s on his mind. These accusations may or may not be true. His critics may or may not actually know the president’s motivations. They may or may not have the power to read his mind. But Ergo thinks that the suspicion of revenge on the part of Aquino emanates from a certain mentality prevailing in our country that politics is all personal. The suspicion also comes from the mindset that when a leader goes after some personalities, no matter that they’re accused of serious crimes supported by credible evidence, then that’s revenge. In countries that are serious about governance, if the government doesn’t go after crooks, it would be gravely remiss and pilloried by an indignant citizenry for it. In this country we have a system that says “that happened in the past, let’s forget about it, let’s move on.” According to that mentality, it’s a waste of time to focus on what happened in the past. Worse, the nation suffers from a feudal zeitgeist that accepts that abuse and stealing by people in power is bound to take place anyway so there’s not much point in worrying about that now. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Fred Lobo: Full disclosure; no DAP cover-up 

Concerned groups press for a “full disclosure” by Malacañang and Congress on the controversial and outlawed P140.8-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Complete the list of projects/disbursements and open the books to the public ASAP, they cry. *** Malacañang assures that there is no conspiracy to conceal the true spending under its fiscal stimulus program and that it will divulge the list of DAP-funded projects “at the appropriate time.”  No cover-up on DAP, the Palace vows. ***  “That’s our commitment. The list is there. The numbers are there. What we want to do is to make sure, to inform the public what are the status of the projects… We will be releasing the projects,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda says. The proof of the promise is in transparency and full accounting. *** Vice President Jejomar C. Binay says that full disclosure of all projects funded by the DAP is “a good starting point” to prove “good faith” by those who conceived and implemented the program. Full disclosure to prove “good faith,” VPNay insists. *** “This is, after all, consistent with the tenets of full transparency that is the cornerstone of the Aquino administration and I do hope my colleagues will reconsider a reported decision to withhold the release of the so-called DAP list,” he tells the Rotary Club of Manila. Oops, presidential timber No. 1 is saying and revealing something. -----Time for answers – and to respect the public’s right to know. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Editorial: What ever happened to the 2nd and 3rd batch of PDAF cases? 

What ever happened to the second and the third batch of charges the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced would be filed after it filed the first batch against three opposition senators in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam? When the charges were filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, the public was quick to note that these were all opposition leaders; two of them had been mentioned as planning to run for president (Revilla) and for vice president (Estrada) in the 2016 elections. And yet, according to the original whistleblower Benhur Luy, there were 20 senators and 80 congressmen in the list of those whose PDAF allotments went to Janet Lim Napoles and her non-government organizations. The other day, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called on the Office of the Ombudsman to strengthen its “litigation muscles” and “tap the best lawyers” to assist it in the prosecution of the accused senators. Against the seasoned defense lawyers, Belmonte said, the prosecution has already made several critical missteps, notably the attempt to amend the charges they had already filed, to make the senators the alleged masterminds rather than Napoles. It seems the concentration of administration officials is still on the three opposition leaders. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Melito Salazar Jr.: Slow recovery 

Three days after Typhoon Glenda struck and there are still areas without electricity. We still see sidewalks with toppled trees obstructing the passageways of pedestrians. In inner streets there are still uncollected debris hindering the smooth flow of traffic. We are witnessing a slow recovery from the effects of a natural disaster, an unfortunately recurring situation. We can trace this situation to a lack of preparedness at both individual and community levels. As we entered the rainy and typhoon prone season, one would have expected that homeowners took advantage of the particularly hot and dry summer to have their roofs checked for leaks, their drainage systems cleared of leaves and other debris, and their trees pruned. Electrical systems should also have been checked for exposed wirings or loose connections. In households utilizing wells, full water tanks should have been maintained. The household should have a stock of emergency lights, batteries, and LPG stove. Candles should be resorted to as a last resort, considering they could become fire hazards. In the community, all trees, especially those lining the streets, should also have been pruned and deteriorating and dead tress chopped. The perennial electric posts laden with cable wirings, phone wirings, etc., should have been organized to prevent overloading and readily toppling down during strong typhoon winds with the streets strewn with all those wires placing pedestrians at risk. Village association officers should have done the rounds of the residences to ensure that no hazards exist which could endanger the community. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Ambssador Jose A. Zaide: The majority of one 

Someone, somewhere, sometime, somehow, said something like, “One man plus the truth makes a majority!” That may be so in a perfect world. But in an imperfect democracy that is yet to be righted by “Daang Matuwid” we have to respect the decision of a numerical majority. And we should be suspicious when the Majority of “1” is actually the Perpendicular Pronoun “I.”  By the time this column appears, the Supreme Court may have ruled on Malacañang’s appeal to review its decision declaring DAP unconstitutional. (Perhaps “appealing” may be an overstatement if the knee-jerk reaction of our Chief Executive was more “appalling.”  To the credit of the President, after the humiliation of the third branch of government by turning out the sitting Chief Justice (albeit with DAP as sweetener), the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Maria Sereno and the three other Aquino-appointed Associate Justices, voted 13-0 against DAP. (This is even worse than the manhandling of Brazil by the German manschaft at the last football World Cup.) However, the left hand takes back what the right hand has unconsciously handed over… because of the petulant reaction of the President and a veiled a threat to take back the Judiciary Development Fund which Malacañang derides as the “DAP of the Supreme Court.”  Followed by a cryptic remark that Malacañang could manifest how it could also “be Supreme.”  * READ MORE...

ALSO by Senator Edgardo J. Angara: Building on lessons learned 

Last week, Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) barreled through Luzon with winds as fast as 185 kph. Meteorologists warned that Glenda could have been the strongest to ever hit Metro Manila, reminiscent of 2006’s Typhoon Milenyo (Xangsane) which leveled nearly P6 billion worth of private property and affected up to 1.2 million people. Glenda weakened as it traveled through Luzon. But damage to persons and property were kept at a minimum because of foresight and decisive action from both government officials and citizens. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) set up sandbags across the Manila Bay seawall in anticipation of 2-meter high storm surges, which fortunately never came. Residents in low-lying areas were safely relocated after dutifully complying with evacuation calls of local officials, such as in the City of Manila. Despite being among the first areas hit, Albay and Camarines Norte reported zero casualties — again, because residents complied with early evacuation calls.

In 2012, the World Disaster Report rated the Philippines as the third-most disaster prone country in the world, given its regular exposure to tropical cyclones. This does not necessarily lead to devastation, if key elements are in place — timely communication of weather warnings, proactive government policies, responsible citizenry and adequate equipment and supplies. Our experience with Typhoon Glenda hints at how we are finally learning, to an extent, the painful lessons of past disasters. These lessons must be gathered and manualized, if possible, as more catastrophic disasters will characterize today’s “new normal.” Recently, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) broke ground for its Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) in Camp Aguinaldo. The IOC will be equipped with state-of-the-art communication facilities, coming at relatively no cost to taxpayers having been funded mostly by foreign private donors who wanted to extend their assistance to the Philippines post-Yolanda. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Is PNoy out for revenge?

MANILA, JULY 21, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Leandro DD Coronel - Is it out of revenge when the leader of the nation goes after people suspected of serious wrongdoing? Or is it an attempt to change society for the better by cleansing it of undesirable elements and putting in place lasting reforms?

There seems to be a school of thought out there that President Aquino has been going after current or former officials who allegedly abused their positions because he has a grudge against those people.

Past government officials, chiefly former Pres. Gloria Arroyo, are on the dock for alleged crimes that revolve mainly around abuse of power. And currently, of course, three senators are detained for the alleged crime of plunder, stemming from the now-infamous pork-barrel scam.

Sundry government officials and a few private individuals have been implicated in the pork scam. Its alleged chief operator, Janet Napoles, is also in detention.

In 2012, the country’s chief magistrate, was impeached, convicted, and ousted from office for not declaring all of his assets, some of which allegedly were ill-gotten.

According to some commentary, the Aquino administration has done all these because he wanted to exact revenge on the people involved.

Mrs. Arroyo, for withdrawing the security detail for the president’s mother, former Pres. Cory Aquino. Isn’t this too petty a reason for PNoy to haul Mrs. Arroyo off to court and keep her in detention for a long period of time now? Is Mr. Aquino really that petty and vengeful?

Chief Justice Renato Corona for allegedly being a stooge of President Arroyo and who would have done everything to get her off the hook no matter how many cases the current administration might have thrown at her?

Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Bong Revilla principally for being in the opposition and supposedly as being a threat to Aquino’s chosen candidates in 2016 and his plans to dominate Philippine politics for a long time beyond his term?

Ergo doesn’t know Mr. Aquino and cannot fathom what’s on his mind. These accusations may or may not be true. His critics may or may not actually know the president’s motivations. They may or may not have the power to read his mind.

But Ergo thinks that the suspicion of revenge on the part of Aquino emanates from a certain mentality prevailing in our country that politics is all personal. The suspicion also comes from the mindset that when a leader goes after some personalities, no matter that they’re accused of serious crimes supported by credible evidence, then that’s revenge.

In countries that are serious about governance, if the government doesn’t go after crooks, it would be gravely remiss and pilloried by an indignant citizenry for it.

In this country we have a system that says “that happened in the past, let’s forget about it, let’s move on.” According to that mentality, it’s a waste of time to focus on what happened in the past. Worse, the nation suffers from a feudal zeitgeist that accepts that abuse and stealing by people in power is bound to take place anyway so there’s not much point in worrying about that now.

That’s been the rule in Philippine politics for a long time: Let’s not worry about shenanigans in the past, that’s over.

That worked in the past because the business of politics then was stealing from the national treasury. So the thinking was, forget what others did before us, it’s now our time to steal and make ourselves rich.

Nobody went after previous crooks because politicians took turns raiding the nation’s coffers and helping themselves to the people’s money. Investigating the crimes of past politicians was not on the agenda and was a waste of time when that time could be more profitably spent stealing from the people.

So now it seems odd for people to see an administration that says it wants to put in reforms and a system that would punish the shenanigans that happened before. People aren’t used to an administration pursuing crooks because that never happened before. They find it unusual that, instead of maximizing its turn to steal, the present government has other priorities instead.

So are they doing things because they’re out to do revenge on some people?

They may or they may not. But shouldn’t the more important and appropriate question be: Did the accused really commit the crimes they’re accused of? Did they really steal? Did they really amass illegal wealth and hide it?

If these questions are answered in the affirmative, then Aquino’s motivation, revenge or duty, is irrelevant. What’s relevant is, did the crimes really take place? If they did, what’s wrong with going after those who committed them?

Full disclosure; no DAP cover-up  by Fred M. Lobo  July 13, 2014


by Fred M. Lobo

Concerned groups press for a “full disclosure” by Malacañang and Congress on the controversial and outlawed P140.8-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Complete the list of projects/disbursements and open the books to the public ASAP, they cry.

***

Malacañang assures that there is no conspiracy to conceal the true spending under its fiscal stimulus program and that it will divulge the list of DAP-funded projects “at the appropriate time.”

No cover-up on DAP, the Palace vows.

***

“That’s our commitment. The list is there. The numbers are there. What we want to do is to make sure, to inform the public what are the status of the projects… We will be releasing the projects,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda says.

The proof of the promise is in transparency and full accounting.

***

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay says that full disclosure of all projects funded by the DAP is “a good starting point” to prove “good faith” by those who conceived and implemented the program.

Full disclosure to prove “good faith,” VPNay insists.

***

“This is, after all, consistent with the tenets of full transparency that is the cornerstone of the Aquino administration and I do hope my colleagues will reconsider a reported decision to withhold the release of the so-called DAP list,” he tells the Rotary Club of Manila.

Oops, presidential timber No. 1 is saying and revealing something.

***

The Vice President adds that the SC decision and the separate concurring opinions on the DAP are “rather clear, if not brutally frank, on the matter of accountability… There is no room to speculate or look for hidden clues in the decision of the high court. It is essential that we see this cleansing of government to its just conclusion – public service without taint of self-interest, without a tinge of deception and political persecution,” Binay advises.

Time for governmental cleansing sans political persecution.

***

Lacierda assures that various Cabinet departments have already been directed to submit a report on the status of the projects implemented under DAP, explaining that while Budget Secretary Butch Abad disburses the funds, the implementing phase is with the various Cabinet departments.

Hurry, sirs. Report ASAP or be caught in the crossfire.

***

Party-list Rep. Teddy Ridon warns that if Malacañang continues to refuse disclosure of all details about the DAP, it would come to a point when the Palace would even intervene and block the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill now pending in Congress.

From DAP controversy to FOI blockade? Keep watching.

***

Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also warns Abad against ignoring mounting clamor for full disclosure of the DAP by claiming that “until now Secretary Abad has been tight-lipped” on charges that DAP was used as a reward to loyal political subalterns, mainly for the Corona impeachment.

Here comes Bulaklakin alive and kicking again.

***

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares also criticizes the President and Abad for trying to “deflect their accountability for the unconstitutional usurpation of Congress’ power and its refusal to release the specifics and documents of 116 projects under the DAP.”

Bayan, nakikipagsabayan: Divulge use of DAP funds. And prove “good faith” too.

* * *

Other groups raise concerns that Palace Boys may be crafting a “tall tale” to cover up any illegal transactions under the DAP amid the delay in the release of a list of projects.

No tall tales, no long tails, they cry.

***

Meanwhile, President Aquino rejects the resignation of Abad, saying he still believes in him.

The resignation should have been made “irrevocable” to save the face of President Aquino, says UNA spokesman Toby Tiangco.

***

The Senate asks Abad to answer questions in a Senate inquiry on July 21.

Time for answers – and to respect the public’s right to know.

Editorial: What ever happened to the 2nd and 3rd batch of PDAF cases? July 16, 2014

What ever happened to the second and the third batch of charges the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced would be filed after it filed the first batch against three opposition senators in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam?

When the charges were filed against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla, the public was quick to note that these were all opposition leaders; two of them had been mentioned as planning to run for president (Revilla) and for vice president (Estrada) in the 2016 elections. And yet, according to the original whistleblower Benhur Luy, there were 20 senators and 80 congressmen in the list of those whose PDAF allotments went to Janet Lim Napoles and her non-government organizations.

The other day, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. called on the Office of the Ombudsman to strengthen its “litigation muscles” and “tap the best lawyers” to assist it in the prosecution of the accused senators. Against the seasoned defense lawyers, Belmonte said, the prosecution has already made several critical missteps, notably the attempt to amend the charges they had already filed, to make the senators the alleged masterminds rather than Napoles. It seems the concentration of administration officials is still on the three opposition leaders.

* The public’s attention has moved on from PDAF with its estimated P10-billion loss in people’s tax money to the much bigger Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which has been variously estimated at P144 billion to P157 billion. Here the administration strategy seems to be to emphasize that while the DAP was unconstitutional on three counts, some of funds were used for projects that were good for the nation.

The debate on DAP is now in the headlines but that should not keep us from asking about the PDAF, which shook the nation when it was first exposed. The latest PDAF reports had to do with complaints that the three senators were getting better treatment than other prisoners, that an aide of Senator Enrile had been rushed to the Heart Center without getting the approval of the court, and now Speaker Belmonte’s advice to the Ombudsman to get better lawyers.

The filing of cases against three opposition leaders surely cannot be all that there is to the case. At one time we said that the day charges are filed against the others in the Napoles list, including some administration men and allies, that will be the day people will stop charging “selective justice.”

Which brings us to the original question: What happened to the promised second and third batch of PDAF cases the DOJ said it would soon file?

Slow recovery by Melito Salazar Jr. July 20, 2014


by Melito Salazar Jr.

Three days after Typhoon Glenda struck and there are still areas without electricity. We still see sidewalks with toppled trees obstructing the passageways of pedestrians. In inner streets there are still uncollected debris hindering the smooth flow of traffic. We are witnessing a slow recovery from the effects of a natural disaster, an unfortunately recurring situation.

We can trace this situation to a lack of preparedness at both individual and community levels. As we entered the rainy and typhoon prone season, one would have expected that homeowners took advantage of the particularly hot and dry summer to have their roofs checked for leaks, their drainage systems cleared of leaves and other debris, and their trees pruned. Electrical systems should also have been checked for exposed wirings or loose connections. In households utilizing wells, full water tanks should have been maintained. The household should have a stock of emergency lights, batteries, and LPG stove. Candles should be resorted to as a last resort, considering they could become fire hazards.

In the community, all trees, especially those lining the streets, should also have been pruned and deteriorating and dead tress chopped. The perennial electric posts laden with cable wirings, phone wirings, etc., should have been organized to prevent overloading and readily toppling down during strong typhoon winds with the streets strewn with all those wires placing pedestrians at risk. Village association officers should have done the rounds of the residences to ensure that no hazards exist which could endanger the community.

* At the onset of the typhoon, the village should set protocols to prevent residents from venturing out, except village disaster squads properly garbed with protective wear. Emergency phone numbers should be provided all households and a community disaster area should be identified and properly equipped. In anticipation of power failure, solar powered lights should be strategically positioned in the village areas, especially at the entry and exit points or at areas with high foliage. In fact, clearing of high cogon grass and bushes should be regularly done.

After the typhoon exits, there should be an immediate evaluation of the extent of damage and identification of areas needing attention – clearing of debris, strengthening and repair of breached walls, calls to the electric company for restoration of power, and handling of exposed electric lines. The village officers should check with each household for any assistance required and help should be extended as needed. Disasters should bring out the best of community spirit and not be one of a dog-eat-dog atmosphere.

Most important, the public should be seeing their elected officials before, during, and after the disaster leading the preparations, coping with the disaster, and overseeing the recovery operations. These officials should not be with their families hiding in 5-star hotels since their communities have no electric power. Even if recovery is slow, the public will not mind so much as long as they see the leaders suffering with them.

Business Bits. It seems that during disasters, it is only media that is there to report, prod the utilities to restore services and offer some semblance of support to the suffering masses.

The majority of one by Ambssador Jose A. Zaide July 20, 2014


Ambssador Jose A. Zaide

Someone, somewhere, sometime, somehow, said something like, “One man plus the truth makes a majority!”

That may be so in a perfect world. But in an imperfect democracy that is yet to be righted by “Daang Matuwid” we have to respect the decision of a numerical majority. And we should be suspicious when the Majority of “1” is actually the Perpendicular Pronoun “I.”

By the time this column appears, the Supreme Court may have ruled on Malacañang’s appeal to review its decision declaring DAP unconstitutional. (Perhaps “appealing” may be an overstatement if the knee-jerk reaction of our Chief Executive was more “appalling.”

To the credit of the President, after the humiliation of the third branch of government by turning out the sitting Chief Justice (albeit with DAP as sweetener), the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Maria Sereno and the three other Aquino-appointed Associate Justices, voted 13-0 against DAP. (This is even worse than the manhandling of Brazil by the German manschaft at the last football World Cup.)

However, the left hand takes back what the right hand has unconsciously handed over… because of the petulant reaction of the President and a veiled a threat to take back the Judiciary Development Fund which Malacañang derides as the “DAP of the Supreme Court.”

Followed by a cryptic remark that Malacañang could manifest how it could also “be Supreme.”

* A populist initiative later called on the public to wear yellow ribbons in support of the President’s DAP. Opposition predictably seized on the misstep with the admonition that as “Father of the Nation,” the call to the hustings was wrong and divisive.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma weighed in to say not to take the yellow ribbon seriously. If we are not to take the President seriously, does it mean he was joking?

Why must the spokesman explain what the President means is different from how he behaves?

Moreover, after Budget Secretary Florencio Abad owned the authorship of DAP, wolves have been baying for his resignation. Secretary Abad is on the side of angels, and one of the finest and original movers of Benigno-Simeon-Aquino III-for-President. But I remember that when kabayan Noli de Castro had whipped up to a frenzy the Flor Contemplacion case, then President Fidel V. Ramos had to sacrifice innocent blood – his Secretary of Foreign Affairs Roberto R. Romulo and Labor Secretary Nieves Confessor – before the fire reached the presidency.

Building on lessons learned by Senator Edgardo J. Angara July 19, 2014


by Senator Edgardo J. Angara

Last week, Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) barreled through Luzon with winds as fast as 185 kph. Meteorologists warned that Glenda could have been the strongest to ever hit Metro Manila, reminiscent of 2006’s Typhoon Milenyo (Xangsane) which leveled nearly P6 billion worth of private property and affected up to 1.2 million people.

Glenda weakened as it traveled through Luzon. But damage to persons and property were kept at a minimum because of foresight and decisive action from both government officials and citizens.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) set up sandbags across the Manila Bay seawall in anticipation of 2-meter high storm surges, which fortunately never came. Residents in low-lying areas were safely relocated after dutifully complying with evacuation calls of local officials, such as in the City of Manila. Despite being among the first areas hit, Albay and Camarines Norte reported zero casualties — again, because residents complied with early evacuation calls.

In 2012, the World Disaster Report rated the Philippines as the third-most disaster prone country in the world, given its regular exposure to tropical cyclones. This does not necessarily lead to devastation, if key elements are in place — timely communication of weather warnings, proactive government policies, responsible citizenry and adequate equipment and supplies.

Our experience with Typhoon Glenda hints at how we are finally learning, to an extent, the painful lessons of past disasters. These lessons must be gathered and manualized, if possible, as more catastrophic disasters will characterize today’s “new normal.”

Recently, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) broke ground for its Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) in Camp Aguinaldo. The IOC will be equipped with state-of-the-art communication facilities, coming at relatively no cost to taxpayers having been funded mostly by foreign private donors who wanted to extend their assistance to the Philippines post-Yolanda.

* NDRRMC Executive Director Usec. Alexander Pama explained that the IOC will be a 3-level structure that will house affiliated agencies for better coordination and an operations center with large screens, which will allow disaster officials to monitor multiple news feeds and on-the-ground developments.

Clearly, the IOC is a positive step for the country, underscoring the vital role modern Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays in disaster response. With its completion by April, 2015, other equivalent command centers — perhaps for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao — should be set up to enable closer monitoring of disaster-prone areas.

Aside from being a logistics coordination center, the IOC should become an indispensable hub for disaster science, education, and training. In partnership with government and other international weather agencies, the academe could conduct research and weather modeling as well as disaster drills for local officials and school administrators to guide them on disaster adaptation and mitigation efforts. Such a rich training and information resource could make an IOC the perfect training center for autonomous disaster response, rather than the present centralized system.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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