Editorial: A not too merry Christmas for Filipinos Featured

Editorial: A not too merry Christmas for Filipinos

For hundreds of Filipinos, Christmas Day and the days before what is usually the happiest day of the year was downright tragic. For tens of thousands of others, it was simply depressing.
The reason for the sad Christmas in our motherland, the Republic of the Philippines, was a series of tragedies that resulted in tremendous loss of life and property.
In the days prior to Dec. 25, a killer typhoon struck the southern part of the country. The number of fatalities is not yet known, but some estimates place the loss of life at more than 200.
In Davao City, meanwhile, a fire at a mall that also houses a call center resulted in at least 37 dead.
Then there was a road accident in Agoo between a passenger jeep and a bus that saw 20 killed as they were on their way to Mass.
The three tragedies were unrelated, but the news spread throughout the archipelago, putting a damper on the holiday season that is 2017.
Typhoon Vinta caused the huge loss of life as it crossed the southern part of the Philippines. Flash floods, strong winds, mudslides and torrential rains were caused by the storm, forcing at least 20,000 to flee to evacuation centers. Tens of thousands more left their homes and stayed with relatives and friends in safer ground.
Since storms are natural occurences, there was little that could be done. Yet it seems that the national and local government units were not sufficiently prepared. It is sad to note that the Philippines is frequently visited by typhoons, yet disaster preparation is still far from perfect for most LGUs.
As for the Davao fire and the Agoo accident, these were both manmade and could therefore have been avoided. One has to wonder why a mall with a call center office in its top floor did not have fire exits. President Duterte visited the site and was seen to weep, considering the tragedy happened in the city that he ruled as a city mayor for the longest time.
It is not only the building owner but also the local executives who granted permits for the call center to operate who must be held legally and morally liable.
Fatal road accidents are not uncommon in the Philippines, where drivers of public utility vehicles are not always concerned with public safety. They are made to drive long hours, and on holidays such as Christmastime, they work extra shifts due to the big demand in public transport.
This week’s deadly accident could have been avoided.
The pall of gloom that descended on the Philippines will pass. Filipinos still managed to celebrate Christmas, and will surely do so when New Year’s Day comes next week.
As a predominantly Christian nation, prayers will be offered and candles lit for all the Filipinos who lost their lives this week and last week. Our thoughts and prayers go to our countrymen, especially the families of those who lost their loved ones this deadly Christmas weekend.

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