Analysis: Beyond Ondoy and Climate Change, Blame Goes to Arroyo, Teodoro

Critics point out that the introduction and use of market-based mechanisms namely, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Emissions Trading, and Joint Implementation have systematically weakened and distorted the Kyoto Protocol “from the inside.” Meanwhile, under the current Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP 2004-2010), the Arroyo administration has pursued environmental management and addressing the threats and impact of climate change mainly in the context of energy independence and investment promotion.

In terms of response to the impact of climate change, it has been noted in a 2005 World Bank report that “the Philippine institutional arrangements and disaster management systems tend to rely on a response or reactive approach, in contrast to a more effective proactive approach, in which disasters are avoided, by appropriate land-use planning, construction and other pre-event measures which avoid the creation of disaster-prone conditions.” The report went on to say that “local level systems are response-driven –there is no obvious effort to initiate proactive hazard management/risk reduction coordination.” (Read main story: Poor Are Worst Hit by Ondoy; Inept Political Leadership Makes Them Suffer Even More)

Disastrous Response

While there are crucial issues that the international community and the Philippines must address in terms of mitigation and adaptation approaches in relation to climate change, Ondoy’s devastation and its aftermath have also exposed some very alarming and more basic issues. Among them is that while the country’s handling of extremely changing weather conditions is being described as reactive, it appears that even in terms of effective disaster response the country is not also well-prepared.

This is so evident not only in the disastrous rescue efforts of the NDCC but also in the current relief drive of government. The scene of flood victims scrambling for limited relief goods, overcrowded evacuation centers lacking basic hygiene necessities, displaced families forced to spend the night on sidewalks and some in a slaughterhouse amid reports of a depleted national calamity fund, etc. all paint a picture of chaos, of a government stumped and perplexed in the face of a tropical storm that experts say was not even a “super typhoon.”

Making the Palace an evacuation center for a handful of “fortunate” flood victims who enjoy relatively better food and more “convenient” temporary shelter will surely generate favorable publicity for Arroyo and Teodoro. But it will not do the trick. The Arroyo administration, in particular Mrs. Arroyo and Teodoro as the top officials dealing with climate change and disaster response, must be held accountable for the hundreds of deaths and unspeakable suffering that the victims of Ondoy currently endure. They could not blame Ondoy or climate change – these are realities that the country should have faced a long time ago. The question is: Are we dealing with them effectively and responsibly? (

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