After the brouhaha about Ces Drilon, all eyes are now on relief and recovery operations following the wrath of typhoon Frank, which left an estimated 200+ dead, and at least 700 missing, after Sulpicio Lines’ M/V Princess of the Stars, sank near Romblon.
Expectedly, the public is again witness to the finger pointing of government officials and stakeholders, who are trying to save face.
PAGASA says the typhoon had changed its course. Previously, Frank had been predicted to hit the Bicol Peninsula. But it ended up hitting Panay, Metro Manila, and the other provinces on the western side of Luzon. Whether applicable to Frank or not, this raises again the issue of the kind of equipment the state’s weather agency has. And all the more, it underscores the very slow action (or is it more appropriate to use inaction now?) in upgrading the facilities of PAGASA. We’ve had some of the worst typhoons in recent years, but no tangible effort has been seen from the government to address the problems of PAGASA — which also includes the brain drain of meteorologists.
Just how prepared were the provinces for Frank? Was preparation limited only to the Bicol region? Well, it’s has happened many times before that a typhoon changed its course. So the provincial governments should have been prepared as well. Iloilo did not seem to be prepared for this disaster.
One of the biggest concerns, of course, is the M/V Princess of the Stars. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was furious herself, when she found out that the ferry had been given clearance to travel. Obviously, the guidelines are not effective and should be revised. An investigation would be in order.
Sulpicio Lines has defended itself, and says its vessels are all sea-worthy. Rather than being on the defensive, I would like to hear much more on what it will do for its passengers and their families.