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Opinions

Necessary Changes?

The DENR recently finished its geohazard mapping of the whole country. With these maps, DENR identified the places that would be devastated the most in times of flood, landslides and earthquakes. DENR said that most of these high-risk areas are near the Eastern Philippine seaboard and around the vicinity of Laguna de Bay.

(Plus, a recent report by Pacific Strategies and Assessments states that Metro Manila is unprepared for a major earthquake.)

Despite these places either being known as flood-prone areas or are originally part of river systems, some of our kababayans still choose to build their houses on or near them, thus risking their families’ – and their own — lives.

DENR suggested that the families affected be relocated. But where? Bringing most of them back to provinces would somewhat be futile, for they would still go back months later to the Metropolis, where they believe life is better and opportunities are more abundant. This is the reason why most of them insist on choosing to build decrepit houses even in disaster-prone areas.

Relocation is a good idea, no doubt about it. I’s about time we realize a dream of a beautiful, organized and orderly Metro Manila. It’s one good step towards that goal. I only hope that the relocation sites would be as good as, if not near the quality of life in the Metro. I also hope the government would support these communities for a long time, by not considering these relocations as just “pet projects”, and by not leaving them after the process of relocation itself.

Or maybe, one among us can think of ingenious ideas to solve this problem without the need of relocation. Maybe not allowing the construction of homes near riverbanks, coastlines, lakeside, and even beside creeks deep inside barangays. An extensive check of waterways in the Metro, maybe, to ensure the proper and natural flow of floodwater during the rainy season. Of tremendous importance is the proper disposal of solid waste, to prevent the clogging of canals.

Most importantly, we Filipinos especially in urban areas should raise our awareness in our way of living within our vicinity. What I mean is, you know already that your place is flood-prone, yet you just leave your situation as is, and just wait for the Government to rescue you when the waters rise to chest-level. I suggest that barangays and communities conduct regular meetings with its constituents to assess the condition of their areas.

Poverty should not be an excuse for inaction. I believe it’s time for community activism. We should help ourselves, in the same manner as how the government is serving us.

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One more thing: the DepEd believes six years in elementary and four years in high school are not yet enough. DepEd is strongly advocating two additional years in basic education, dubbed the “K plus 12” System (Kindergarten to 12 years), like in abroad.

Here’s my two cents on this: adding two years would be a burden to our public school teachers. Imagine, they are somewhat overworked and underpaid, and you ask them to take more workload?

Maybe improving the quality of education should go first. Procuring better textbooks, constructing more schools, lowering the drop-out rate, raising the number of students who graduate from college, raising the compensation of teachers, and encouraging more people to practice teaching here in the Philippines should be the top priorities of DepEd.

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