Editorial: Shock and awe, carrot on a stick

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

ALBAY Gov. Joey Salceda is in the news, and that is because despite typhoon Glenda’s surprising strength and destructive power and Albay being the worst-hit, the province achieved zero-casualty.

In these times of destructive typhoons, every lesson in how to reduce mortality is worth a moment to learn from.

Typhoon Glenda, international name Rammasun, battered Albay and destroyed some P6.2 billion worth of crops and property in Albay, but not one died.


It took leadership and at times, what Salceda referred to as “shock therapy” and forced residents to leave disaster-prone areas even as the sky was still very clear the day before the typhoon was to hit. He also used the carrot on a stick trick, dangling rice packs to residents of low-lying areas on the condition that they move, and make it fast.

Then, there is the focus on communicating the message and the urgency to act. Getting the word out through all possible channel is very important, he said.

"I aired warnings over my Facebook. I probably had 100 interviews over the radio, over and over," Salceda said in a report by the Reuters. Aside from this, the local government sent out advisories through text messages to all its barangay council officials aside from having a smartphone app for storm warnings.

Most of all, he said, local government units should allot funds for disaster management, make this a permanent office, such that changes in administration will not affect its operations. Albay has had the disaster management office since 1994 that came complete with permanent staff. Other LGUs are still trying to grapple with the worsening disasters.

The typhoon season is here, and the Philippines has just welcomed the strongest typhoon yet for the year. Will there be one of greater destructive power? We pray not. But should there be, then we can all learn a lot from Albay. We don’t have to make our own experiments and try out our own solutions, we can simply learn from the province that has been able to reduce casualties to the barest minimum despite being in the way of most typhoons. It helps, of course, if the local government executives we choose have strong political will.

We’re facing tough times that grow tougher each year, we cannot afford to put in power those who do not know what real governance means and 2016 is just around the corner.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 28, 2014.


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