Entering the unknown…



Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

By the time you’ll have read this, the Philippines would have been under lockdown for almost a week.  Personally, I think the idea of locking down the country is a good idea.  How it’s implemented, I leave it to each and everyone to make his or her assessment.

Compared to other countries, the Philippines is no stranger to disasters.  We’re a country which experiences natural calamities all to often.  Being in the Ring of Fire, we experience earthquakes almost on a regular basis (though some are not major).  Facing the Pacific Ocean, super typhoons, and not just regular typhoons hit the major islands of the country (some places hit more now than before) every so often, with one of the most recent storms, Ursula, devastating several provinces in her path.  Some of the areas hit, are still trying to recover now.

We are now in the midst of another disaster.  The whole country has been declared by the President as under a State of Calamity (I think it was an excellent idea).  Everybody’s hunkering down and preparing for the worst.

But there’s something divergent now.  Something which makes this disaster dissimilar from the previous disasters we’ve been used to.  While an earthquake lasts only second or minutes, with possible aftershocks felt even days after, you know the worst is, hopefully over.  Same with a super typhoon.  Days before it hits, we already have an idea how long it’ll last.  There have been instances in the past where the severity of the storm was inaccurate, but more or less we know how long the storm will hit, and when it moves forward, we know we can start rebuilding.

This is different now.  Though many scientists predict it will end by October, for the Philippines, the projection is still fluid.  Day by day, there are variances in the severity of the pandemic.  Every day, many, including myself, are unsure on how long this will really last.  Some say it will last two weeks to a month, at least.  Some predict longer.  So many people don’t really know how long to prepare for.  There lies the problem:  The uncertainty of how long this will last.  What preparations they should do?  Should they hunker down and prepare to be in isolation for two weeks, a month, or longer?  I have to stress that the duration of this crisis is no one’s fault.  However, the uncertainty is what is really troublesome.

Right now, many LGUs are providing assistance to their constituents.  There have been changes in the process, to adjust to conditions on the ground, which (in some cases) may have caused confusion.  But that’s expected.  We all learn and have to adjust.  The local officials are doing what they can under these difficult times.  I hope we all recognize their efforts.  Many have hardly had any sleep trying to solve the problems.

But talking from an operations and logistics point of view, even if the LGUs want to continue helping, for how long can this assistance last?  How long can private businesses keep on providing financial support to its employees?  How long can the LGUs give financial assistance and food packs?  How much is the QRF of the different LGUs, and how long will that last them?

Last week, we saw so many LGUs stepping up, taking bold steps to ease the suffering of their constituents.  We also saw private businesses, both conglomerates and even small business owners, likewise digging deep to help their employees and the govt.  We see and hear stories of even vendors who are giving the food they’re supposed to sell, to the officials manning the checkpoints.  Everyone is stepping up. We all need to.  The health care community, our heroes, is really pushing itself to the limit, to ensure they continue to provide assistance to our fellow Filipinos.

But we have to think.. What happens 2 to 3 weeks from now, when supplies are low, and people already exhausted?  What plans are in place to ensure there’s continuity in the services and supplies.  From the national government to each and every household, we all need to do our part in this crisis. We ALL need to plan.  No effort is too small.  No sacrifice is insignificant.  We all have a part to do, to make things better, not only for ourselves, but our family, our neighborhood, our city, our province, our country.