A friend of mine told me how moved she was watching the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners. It was supposed to be her day off from work, but instead of hitting the mall as she usually does on her rest days she spent the day watching BBC’s coverage.
My friend said she was reduced to tears by the emotional reunions of the miners and their loved ones. Out of curiosity I checked out the replay of the coverage. Like my friend I also felt emotional watching the reports but for an entirely different reason.
While watching the video of the last miner emerging from the rescue shaft, I realized how much thought went into the whole operation. It can’t be denied that this event was not just a miracle as some people say but also a showcase of excellent crisis management, careful analysis and commitment.
I was reminded of the Quirino Grandstand Hostage Crisis and how our officials bungled their handling of the situation at the cost of 8 lives.
Another friend said I shouldn’t compare the hostage crisis to this event in Chile. He pointed out that the rescuers in Chile had more than enough time to carefully plan out the whole thing whereas local authorities didn’t have that luxury when they dealt with the hostage taking.
But then what about the gas leak at the West Tower Condominium in Makati? It has been three months since the leak was discovered and up to now its source remains unknown.
I suppose no one can argue that the handling of this particular situation is a perfect example of how inept, incompetent and uncommitted our authorities are.
The last report I heard is that the leak is getting worse but that the Makati City government remains firm in ruling out the evacuation of the area around West Tower Condominium. I’m not sure if that’s a wise decision. All I know is nasa huli ang pagsisisi.
The Philippines has had many disasters already many of which could have been avoided if only pro-active thinking were the norm here. Just consider the following:
- overloading of ships
- use of substandard PUVs
- boundary system of PUVs
- presence of squatter colonies and industrial facilities along waterways
- undisciplined use of non-degradable advertising materials
- giant billboards
- uncovered manholes
- illegal logging
- indiscriminate garbage disposal
Obviously, this is just a partial list. There are many other potential threats to life and property that we seem to just ignore until it’s too late. Being the case we always end up just reacting when we can simply avoid disasters through careful analysis and pro-active action.
It would do our country a lot of good if we all try to really learn the lessons from Chile’s experience.