It has been a week since the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) started pouring all-out efforts into helping the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC)’s Relief Distribution Operations (RDOs) to over 100,000 families in NCR and in various regions affected by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). The amount of rainfall was unprecedentedly the highest in over four decades, even greater than the famed Hurricane Katrina that devasted parts of the United States.
CPU in Action
The team’s pool of volunteers has served as a multi-task secretariat for CDRC, operating New Media efforts to encourage more volunteers and donors and keep the online communities updated on disaster alerts and the status of relief operations, as well as participating in various aspects of the RDO itself.
Individual members and volunteers as well as affiliate organizations have tapped their own networks and communities to contribute donations and manpower. Volunteers from PUP Taguig along with friends and colleagues from UP Diliman kept watch for updates from mass media and participated in the repacking of goods bound for Marikina. CPU Volunteer Gilbert Santoyo mobilized the Sacred Heart Academy of Novaliches, where he is a high school computer teacher, to generate resources and participate in repacking. UST’s Computer Science Society sent teams around communities near CDRC to solicit donations. Hard times indeed bring the best out of people, and nothing best exemplifies this than the enthusiastic response of the ICT community in directly participating in our RDO efforts.
Systemic Corruption Root of Ondoy Disaster
But it also brings out the worst. Some relief drives motivated for media impact and self-interested promotion have caused more chaos than relief for stricken communities, as they haven’t gone through proper protocols such as the need to have targeted distribution and proper coordination with the local organizers in the communities as CDRC does. Instances of government corruption and indifference have cropped out, with the likes of Cong. Mikey Arroyo found shopping for liquor amidst the disaster and Richard Gordon bringing all the supplies of rubber boats to his own province.
But the picture is bigger: we are reminded by facebook watchdogs that way back in August, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was exposed to have used up the government’s P800 million calamity fund for her travel expenses. With this in context, there is no wonder how the onslaught of Ondoy has exposed NDCC’s lacking capabilities in preparing communities to weather extreme climate events, which are clear manifestations of Climate Change. Despite PGMA claiming the title as “Climate Czar”, current laws such as the Renewable Energy and the Disaster Risk Reduction Bills remain as nothing but lip services that have no real effect to the advancement of a national climate change adaptation policy.
Proactive Action is the Key
As world carbon emissions continue to remain unfettered, the prospect of stronger typhoons and other extreme climate events should be motivation enough for the Filipino government and people to take the matter of disaster preparedness seriously. This experience is telling of the need to have a comprehensive and systematic national disaster preparedness plan, from the pre-disaster to the post-disaster scenario.
CPU is committed to helping disaster management organizations and climate activists advocate these necessary social changes. We have previously created a disaster monitoring application for CDRC, and have actively participated in their relief operations and other activities. CPU is also a member organization of the regional umbrella group, the People’s Actions on Climate Change, providing them technical services and helping promote their cause for global climate justice.
Thank you to CPU’s members, volunteers and colleagues who lent their hands in helping the victims of Typhoon Ondoy help themselves. We enjoin our fellow ICT practitioners to continue the job well done, and to further participate in the movement for social change as ICT People for the People!