This is already the third day of continuous operations of the Iloilo Provincial Disaster-Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), and so far, participants in this task of delivering relief goods to victims of superhowler Yolanda, show no sign of fatigue.
They all deserve our gratitude and admiration — public officials and non-government individuals who responded within 24 hours from November 8, 2013 mornbing when Yolanda landfell in northern Iloilo.
As of this writing around 100,000 families were dislocated, 11,000 homes wrecked, and 90 to 100 persons dead in the aftermath.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. was on leave to bury his 13-month oldapo in Manila. Nevertheless, he still made his presence felt on air even before the typhoon struck by repeatedly calling on people along dandger zones (river banks, flood plains, and landslide prone areas) to evacuate.
Defensor kept in touch with people on the ground by assuring constituents that Iloilo had subsantial calamity funds to respond to the crisis which was readily made available when the provincial board convened the day after the tragedy and declared a state of calamity that would allow the DRRMO to release calamity funds.
Northern Iloilo sustained the worst losses in lives and properties. The governor’s physical absence nevertheless was made up by the combination of Vice Gov. Raul “Boboy” Tupas the acting governor, and Provincial Administrator Raul Banias.
Broadcast stations competed to interview them which they answered to the best despite the trickle of information in the immediate aftermath as Yolanda toppled power lines and transmission facilities of telcos plunging the affected towns into darkness and sealing off contacts to the outside world.
Despite that, Tupas and Banias still ran extra miles –by conducting ocular inspection and contacting people on the ground in northern Iloilo up to the point where fallen trees prohibited passage. They inched their way, depending on the speed of persons cutting the trunks by bolo.
They had a fleet of trucks following loaded with relief supplies but the fallen trees obstructed passage and had no heavy equipment in tow or at least a chainsaw to clear the roads.
This tale will continue for days and one symbol for its unfolding is the Iloilo Provincial Capitol itself where Banias and Tupas hold office; where relief from government and non-government sources pour in to be rebagged and retransported to victims whose survival for now depends largely on the availability of food.
At the Provincial Capitol you will see employees of offices of the DRRMO and Social Welfare and Development (PSWDO) tirelessly at work. The former keep tab of developments — damage reports from Yolanda — and forward them to concerned offices for action.
For example, if the report were on the number of persons dead, injured, missing or displaced, Jerry Bionat, head of the DRRMO, would forward that to Dr. Nenet Pador, PSWDO chief. Pador’s people are on standby at the Capitol to receive deliveries of relief goods and rebag them to inviddual recipients whose quantity depended on the report submitted by Bionat.
If the damage concerned public infrastructure (provincial roads and bridges), Bionat would refer that to the provincial engineer who in turn would assess the damage and prepare repair works. If the reports were on losses on crops and livestock, the data would be shared with the provincial agriculturist for action.
The sight of the students, young boys and girls who volunteer to rebag is in sharp contrast to occupants of Malacanang and the two houses of Congress who to date never feel any twang of shame over the pork barrel scam that could have been immediately spent now for the relief of all victims of Yolanda, 10,000 dead to date in Leyte alone.
I don’t want to sound like the Ilonggo character “Kulas Dayaw” but must say I am inspired and impressed by the tirelessness and selflessness of my co-workers at the Capitol who are currently running extra miles and till deep in the night to bring relief to northern Iloilo.
That story is far different from another tale in yonder Kingdom by the River, turf of Boy Angsot who once made his office a nightly venue of his trysts with his querida Jacerla, and who turned the plastic couch of his co-worker into an arenola or urinal, not once but twice, even thrice.
A tragedy struck the Kingdom by the River, a fiefdom similar to that which visited Iloilo Province. Everybody was doing his/her job to well to the utmost in preparing the kingdom for the looming super hurricane, and subsequently, in relief and rehab.
Everbody was doing well except Boy Angsot, self-proclaimed public crier, today’s counterpart of the public information officer or PIO.
In particular, Gerriboy, the disaster coordinating officer of the kingdom went out of his way on print and broadcast to tell people to prepare especially to evacuate danger zones and go to predesignated evacuation centers.
Gerriboy never left the kingdom palace to go to this home to rest: he stayed there after the disaster struck to keep in touch with different principalities (today’s towns) to receive damage reports. He never tired answering queries from the press. He never turned town an interview despite his aching head and muscles.
However, Boy Angsot the bogus public crier (counterpart of today’s PIO), instead of lending a hand, created unnecessary tension by publicly berating Gerriboy for doing his job “poorly.”
What? Yes, si Gerriboy pa lawlaw mag-obra. Gerriboy laughs him off. Boy Angsot, thinking he is Geriboy’s superior, insists that he put up some sort of a billboard for updates so it would be easier for press people.
Be that as it may, press people did not bite Boy Angsot’s childish rantings, a disguised scheme to take over the disaster coordinating office the way Boy Angsot had earlier schemed to unseat the real public crier (PIO today).
Media people are even praising Gerriboy for a good job as all the data needed are available at the tap of the keyboard.
Bikya, Gerriboy’s ally and the lady who nearly punch Boy Angsot in the nose, advises Boy Angsot to “mind your business”.
The job of informing the public on giving the media and the public updates belongs to Boy Angsot, the public crier (PIO today).
Adds Bikya: Boy Angsot in fact should be put in the hotseat for gross negligence. The radio room is under him yet nobody was in the radio room when the hurricane was lashing and immediately after that.
The radio room is needed especially now that the telcos have been knocked off air. The radio room is the only way to connect to the principalities but Boy Angsot forgot to open it, says Bikya.
The tale above still has a side bar. Boy Angsot, man of all seasons, struck again, this time his victim is Mommy Nitz, publisher of a magazine.
Mommy Nitz was distraught because the bogus PIO banned her from entering the Public Crier’s Officer, which as the name suggests, is not the personal property of Boy Angsot.
Boy Angsot is mad at Mommy Nitz suspecting her for spreading the true-to-life humor that he pocketed P30,000 from Sideco which the latter gave to spread the sunshine to other public criers but which Boy Angsot pocketed for himself.
Boy Angsot should know that it’s Agent Kamlon and Datu Ibra who passed that text message to Mommy Nitz.