Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Metro Manila was shut down last Tuesday by the southwest monsoon that was intensified by Tropical Storm “Maring” that dumped almost a month’s worth of rain in one day. Up to 60 percent of Metro Manila and large areas of Luzon were submerged in floods, resulting in the closure of government offices and many private ones for the second straight day, the suspension of classes in public and private schools, and the cancellation of flights.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reports that more than one million people in 35 cities from the regions of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Cordillera and the National Capital Region were affected by the rains and flooding.
After the flooding and destruction left by 2009’s Typhoon Ondoy and last year’s unnamed “Habagat”, whose rains were supposed to be unnaturally intense, the people of the Philippines probably expected a respite from that kind of weather disturbance. This most recent “Habagat” serves as a grim warning that this may be a new normal happening and if we do not prepare our cities and communities for this kind of weather disturbance, the same thing will be taking place year after year.
The towns and cities of Negros may be fortunate to have been spared from the seeming unnatural wrath of nature in the past few years, but this doesn’t mean that we will always be able to avoid that particular bullet. If our existing flood control infrastructures are inadequate for this kind of rainfall, if our storm drains and esteros are ill-maintained and perennially clogged with garbage, if our citizens continue overwhelming our drainage and waterways system through irresponsible littering, it would only need a habagat with half the intensity of the one that hit Luzon to submerge our cities and towns.
This is something we cannot ignore. The latest Habagat proves that what happened in the past was not a fluke, that it is a frightening trend that we have to prepare for. Pure luck has spared Negros so far, but our government officials simply cannot bank on that forever. Let us not wait for our cities to be underwater before we start doing something about it.*