Calls, text messages swamp Gordon
Philippine Daily Inquirer - As he tried to get help for victims of the worst flooding in Metro Manila in recent memory, Sen. Richard Gordon found himself dealing with another kind of inundation.
Gordon, chair of the Philippine National Red Cross, has been swamped with more than 1,000 calls and text messages from flood victims and their relatives since Saturday.
It turned out—to his bafflement and irritation—that his phone number was posted on Twitter and Facebook.
“Somebody told me I was No. 2 in the world on Twitter,” Gordon said in a phone interview, referring to his huge number of followers on the micro-blogging site.
The calls helped the Red Cross go about its work, but did not make him work efficiently, the senator said.
“It was a cruel joke,” he said.
He said he was also alarmed that a television network had posted hotlines that included a phone number attributed to him.
The TV network pulled it out after he advised the network that it was not his number, Gordon said.
He said someone was trying to pull a prank on him.
Still, Gordon said the Red Cross was able to organize and deploy 22 teams and 22 rubber boats since Saturday.
With the help of teams from the Philippine Coast Guard and from Olongapo City, the Red Cross was able to bring to safety 280 stranded flood victims in Quezon City, Rizal and Pasig.
Gordon said the Red Cross would focus rescue operations on Cainta and Pasig.
Failure of system
Trying to bring help to the victims was a frustrating experience as the Red Cross “battled” traffic congestion and other obstacles to reach them, he said.
“There was a failure of the entire system,” the senator said, as he pointed out that both the people and government were all “caught unaware” by this event.
He said the team from Olongapo found it difficult to reach Manila because of heavy traffic.
The misuse of the road user’s tax could have brought about the worst floods in Metro Manila, according to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.
“The massive floods we are experiencing right now could have been mitigated if the multibillion-peso motor-vehicle user’s charge were used properly, including improvement of our drainage systems and road maintenance,” Santiago said in a statement.
An inquiry that Santiago’s economic affairs committee held jointly with the public works committee last week recommended the prosecution by the Ombudsman of a brother of Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who sat as executive secretary of the Road Board secretariat from 2005 to 2008.
Santiago based her recommendation on the findings of the Commission on Audit that questioned the manner by which the Road Board had spent the proceeds of the tax paid yearly by motorists when registering their vehicles.
“It looks like the biggest scandal of the decade produced the biggest floods in Metro Manila,” she said. By Christine Avendaño - Philippine Daily Inquirer