The bad memories of the Filipino people on the misguided and wrong decision-making of our national and local officials were revived following a repeat of the almost similar brouhaha committed by no less than ranking Cabinet officials who seem not to understand their role in disaster risk reduction and mitigation. It can be recalled that after the wrath of Supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas on November 8, 2013, Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria, the former regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 8 and former deputy regional director for administration of the PRO-COR, was unceremoniously relived for telling the truth that the casualties during the overnight onslaught of the strongest typhoon that hit the earth could reach 10,000 or more. The pronouncement came from a well-rounded police officer who was equipped and capacitated to analyze the situation at that time. The allies of the Aquino administration at that time were purely morons and tried to use the situation to their political advantage but their efforts did not actually click and that it even blew right on their faces.
We all thought along that Aquino allies were able to learn their lessons from such blunder and for them to render the right decisions at the right time. However, such blunder was committed by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Cenen Sarmiento when he recently order the outright relief of Senior Superintendent David Q. Lacdan, officer-in-charge of the Benguet Provincial Office, from his post because of the increasing number of casualties in the province after the onslaught of Tropical Strom Lando. Again, such ill-advised, misguided and blatantly wrong decision was made by Aquino allies without knowing its significant impact to the campaign of the anointed national and local candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) who have already been endorsed by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III.
The attainment of zero casualties during the occurrence of natural and man-made calamities is just the ideal goal and not to be imposed or rammed to the throats of local and police officials because of existing factors that tend to affect the realization of such objective. Further, each agency and local government has its own role or function in disaster risk reduction and mitigation that is why the realization of zero casualties lies on the unity and teamwork of all those involved in mitigating the effects of disasters to life and limb. Consequently, even if Secretary Sarmiento is the most powerful man on earth, he will not be able to guarantee that there will be zero casualties during the onslaught of natural and man-made calamities because of the presence of supervening factors beyond the control of man. While it is true that the DILG issued advance advisories to local and police officials to be prepared for Tropical Storm Lando’s onslaught, its strength and direction was rather uncertain and true enough, it was its tail winds that triggered the occurrence of landslides that resulted to the untimely demise of dozens of individuals regionwide but mostly located in Benguet. For Secretary Sarmiento’s information, it was nature that was making its wrath over most parts of Northern Luzon and it was not just a simple man-made calamity so its situation was unpredictable at that time. Secretary Sarmiento should think twice before rendering uncalled for decisions because he might become a burden to the campaign of his bosses in the LP instead of being a true good soldier and an asset.
We believe the victims of Tropical Storm Lando were just in the wrong places at the wrong time. Some of them were tending to their crops when they were hit and buried by landslides while some of them were simply walking along roads or sleeping on their houses when landslides buried their structures. Was Secretary Sarmiento able to predict such occurrences? Is natural disaster a ground for disciplinary action for a retiring police officer?
We firmly contest Secretary Sarmiento’s unfair and biased decision to relive Senior Superintendent Lacdan from his post because of the increasing casualties in Benguet and that he was remised in his job to evacuate people to safer grounds. Again, Secretary Sarmiento forgot that the major role of the police is for anti-criminality campaign and implementation of peacekeeping efforts. The role of the police in disaster risk reduction and mitigation is simply supportive of what concerned government agencies and local governments have crafted in their disaster risk reduction plans.
The latest blunders of the Aquino allies with a few months before the conduct of the May 2016 automated and synchronized national and local elections will have a significant bearing on the support of the people to the national and local candidates of the ruling administration party. The more mistakes they commit would mean the more votes and support being taken out of their candidates because of the sympathy of the people to those who have been victims of such unjust, biased, unfair and misguided decisions. LP candidates and supporters cannot deliver the goods for their national candidates alone because they also need the support of their alliances but if they continue to antagonize them through wrongful doings, then it would be safe to bid goodbye to LP and welcome to a new ruling party which is not vindictive but instead proactive.