|Gov Joey Salceda with Prof. Solita Collas-Monsod|
I ended last year on a note of hope—and obviously I am not alone, since it seems that 95 percent of Filipinos feel the same way. I start this year on a similar note, by pointing out (crowing may be too much), or maybe reminding, that there indeed has been some small victories in the war against corruption, as indicated by Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
Released December 2011, the CPI shows that on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is very corrupt and 10 is very clean, the Philippines had a score of 2.6. Now, don’t start scoffing. I am not clutching at straws here. This is an improvement on our 2010 CPI of 2.4; moreover, our ranking rose from 134th (out of 178 countries) in 2010 to 129th (out of 182) last year. Which means that while we were less corrupt (had a higher score) than 24 percent of the countries surveyed in 2010, we were less corrupt than 29 percent of the countries surveyed (and there were more countries, mind you) last year.
However, we should be cautioned that were we to apply TI’s criteria for determining whether a country has shown an improvement in the perceived levels of corruption, we would not make it. A necessary condition (but not sufficient) for TI to note a change is that the country’s CPI score must change by at least 0.3 points (ours improved by only 0.2 points).
Another note of hope that we can start the year with is the selflessness and the spirit of cooperation shown by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and his “Team Albay.” Although there are no doubt other acts of selflessness, I mention Team Albay because Joey gave a presentation yesterday at the annual fellowship lunch hosted by the National Statistical Coordination Board for the partners and advocates of the Philippine Statistical System. Salceda is a great speaker to start with, and he kept us laughing with his stories, but even if he were the most boring, the audience would still be spellbound, not by how he said it, but by what he said—and did.
The members of Team Albay—composed of the governor, four doctors, 20 nurses, a 35-person water/sanitation team and their 30,000 liter-an-hour water filtrating machine donated by the Spanish government, plus 10 gofers (when they go somewhere, they do not impose on their hosts, but do things for themselves), plus the crew of the ship that went from Albay to CDO, plus Armed Forces personnel from the area—have one thing in common: they are veterans of disasters (Albay is one of the most vulnerable, what with being in the typhoon path plus Mayon Volcano, plus exposure to the Pacific Ocean) and they know how to adapt/manage/mitigate (choose your term) disasters. Please understand that Albay has a record of zero casualties (except for 2006) in the many disasters it has had to deal with.
It turns out that Cagayan de Oro was already the fourth recipient of Albay aid. Team Albay had gone to Iloilo after Typhoon “Frank,” to Bagong Silangan, Quezon City and Cainta after “Ondoy,” and to Isabela after “Pepeng.” So they had their systems and procedures down pat, having learned from their experiences in Albay and all other areas they had been to.
What was extra special about Team Albay’s help to CDO, of course, was its members gave up Christmas and New Year with their own families to be with the victims of “Sendong.” They were in CDO from Dec. 22 to Jan. 5.
Hope Lesson No. 1 that was brought home to me: A province or an area doesn’t have to be rich to be an aid donor; Albay is in the bottom half of provinces in terms of average per capita income (2009 FIES). Arguably, technical assistance and moral and physical support are at least as important as financial aid.
The starting point of Salceda’s advocacy (for want of a better name) of disaster risk reduction/climate change adaptation is that those who have less in life are more at risk—and therefore the ultimate risk reduction tool is human development. And the risks have increased: the average number of disasters over the 10-year period 1994-2003 was 86; the five-year average number of disasters from 2004 to 2008 was 211.
I list two other Hope Lessons gathered from Joey’s sharing:
Hope Lesson 2: Think dignity, and make sure that this is accorded to disaster victims. If every helping action flows from this principle, the rest will fall into place. The victims have lost so much already—their homes, their personal property, perhaps health and even lives of their loved ones—they should not be made to lose their dignity as well.
From this basic insight flow the following:
• Queues and lines are anathema. Joey avers that these are the No. 1 dehumanizers and dignity-strippers of the victims. The preferred method is to assign them their locations, and then bring the items to them.
• Clean and organized surroundings (including toilets) increase morale and sense of dignity.
• Married couples must be provided with opportunities for privacy, whether it be in the form of a “Love Bus” (as was done after Pinatubo) or access to private rooms (Salceda rented 30 of them and distributed tickets for their use at specified times to the women).
Hope Lesson 3: Think efficiency. Records must be scrupulously kept (no hanky panky) to ensure transparency and credibility.
Hope Lesson 4: The Millennium Development Goals can be achieved by combining community ownership and incentives. Proof: Salceda’s records show that Albay will achieve the MDG as scheduled (its maternal mortality rate, for example, is now less than half of the Philippine average).
Today, the spoonful of sugar. Tomorrow, the medicine.
Article was published in Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:32 pm | Friday, January 6th, 2012