After a short rainfall or two, the road that led to my partner M’s hometown just outside Manila would turn into a long stretch of potholes. Then a campaign and much fanfare, and the potholes would be “fixed” by the contractor who offered the biggest bribe. Whatever watered-down crap they used as filling would barely hold until the next rainy season, and the potholes were back. Then we got to do it all over again.
Unfortunately, this patch-over strategy describes how government officials deal with natural disasters as well. As I write this, the Philippines is still reeling from Typhoon Frank (Fengsheng). Large swaths of the Western Visayas are underwater, with some parts virtually undistinguishable from the ocean. Over 200 people are dead, more than a hundred thousand are displaced. And at least 700 passengers of a capsized ferry are still missing.
The thing is, we have storms like this every year. The country knows they’re coming. And yet, our government is never ready.