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(The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2018 - 12:00am

Classes are suspended today in several cities in Metro Manila and neighboring areas due to
massive flooding. Portions of several major thoroughfares and side streets turned into virtual rivers
yesterday as the southwest monsoon, intensified by tropical storm Henry, dumped heavy rains all
over Metro Manila and neighboring areas.

Images of stranded commuters and vehicles stalled in several feet of flood were interspersed with
garbage floating in the murky water. Government personnel waded in the water wearing rubber
boots, but ignored warnings about leptospirosis as they collected the garbage with bare hands in an
effort to make the flood recede faster. Children were also seen swimming half-naked in areas with
heavy flooding.

Flood control systems have improved, with flooding receding faster in many areas. Agencies in
charge of disaster relief and mitigation have also boosted warning systems, using mobile phones
and social media to issue regular rain and flood bulletins. Evacuation protocols have improved in
flood-prone areas along the Marikina River.

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Still, yesterday’s massive flooding shows that more can be done in terms of disaster preparedness.
A critical element is efficient garbage management. Barangay offices and local governments must
do more to promote proper garbage disposal especially in densely populated communities and
informal settlements. People regardless of income level don’t want to live in filthy neighborhoods and
can be enticed to cooperate.
Environment officials must also inspect structures in Laguna de Bay. The area around the lake is a
natural floodplain for Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna and Rizal. But fish pens have
proliferated with little regulation in the lake, causing heavy siltation. Reclamation projects around the
lake, also largely unregulated, have aggravated the situation. The result is the disabling of the
floodplain. In the affected areas, it can take days for ordinary flooding to subside.

The year’s powerful typhoons have not yet hit the country. This week’s monsoons highlight the need
for enhanced efforts to ease flooding.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/07/18/1834486/editorial-


enhanced-preparedness#GI3VRIRISx0ymfWz.99

(The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2018 - 12:00am

The controversy over the pullout of a senator’s security detail should lead to a review of policies on
keeping VIPs safe at taxpayers’ expense. The Philippine National Police has only 170,000 members
to keep about 100 million people safe all over the country. Not all of those 170,000 PNP members
are assigned to patrol neighborhoods and provide police presence as a crime deterrent.

Many PNP members are focused on criminal investigation and do not conduct patrols. Others are
assigned to manage vehicular traffic. A small number is assigned with the elite Special Action Force.
So only a fraction of PNP personnel serve directly as security detail for the general population.

The people will not quibble over state-funded security details for the president and his or her family,
the vice president and the officials in the constitutional line of succession: the House speaker,
Senate president and chief justice. But thousands of other government officials – particularly
politicians in elective posts – get their own police bodyguards who are on the payroll of taxpayers. A
number of these officials have police bodyguards assigned to their spouses, children, mistresses
and their children, and even private business cronies or political supporters.

The police bodyguards circumvent President Duterte’s directive – carried over from the previous
administration – against the use of sirens or wang-wang and blinkers. Police motorcycle escorts use
their blinkers and sirens to let the vehicles of these VIPs weave through traffic.

With their salaries and perks, politicians can surely afford to pay for their personal security and those
of their loved ones and friends. Yet having police bodyguards has become a status symbol that
many politicians can’t do without, even if it deprives the majority of the population of police presence.
As many cases in the past have shown, the bodyguards can’t even guarantee their subjects’ safety
from assassination.

Like economic growth, public safety services in this country are not inclusive, with only a tiny fraction
of the population getting the lion’s share of police protection. President Duterte, who professes to
have the interest of the masses at heart, may want to correct the situation. The mark of a safe
country is when ordinary folks can be as assured of their safety as government officials, their
relatives and cronies.
Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/07/17/1834168/editorial-
security-all#u2U2eRATXlb2xSUD.99