In the Philippines, Maharlika Dos, a maritime vessel was swept by strong winds and currents from its nautical path and eventually sank. At the moment, already seventy people are reported as missing and have to be confirmed either alive or dead. For a small ship, this was not unexpected. More than five or even ten times the size of the ill-fated Maharlika Dos, Captain Ufuk – a huge foreign shipping vessel – that was seized by Philippine authorities in a special operation, berthed far off the coast of Manila Bay, was pushed by strong wind and waves toward the bayfront of Mall of Asia only a day or so ago. Government has recently issued as of September 18, 2014 flood advisories – clearly quite a little late after many have already been submerged.

There is danger that Philippines’ Mayon Volcano might erupt at any time. One of the predicted impacts of high solar activity. Evacuations are being undertaken long before the feared incident might happen. However, those that refuse to part with their farm animals are finding it difficult to join the trek to the evacuation centers.

Activating Mayon Volcano – BBC photo.

In Serbia, horrific floods caused extreme scare among the people. Fatalities cannot be fully accounted for at this time, but the number of dead will run up to hundreds.

Fairly recently, hundreds of people died in Japan due again to floods, high waters and landslides as in Sendai-Fukushima and many other areas of Japan. No one can say that Japan is not learning, but more needs to be done. Hundreds died in India and Pakistan for the same reasons.

Japan, India, Pakistan and the rest of the world has to act now. Change policies or the entire policy regime that affects the safety of people in disaster threatened zones.

Floods since last week in India and Pakistan has killed hundreds

Japan reports: Dozens killed due to floods and landslides. How many dozens?

Policies need to change. If they do not change, then the leaders just need to be changed with new faces and new blood that will secure better chances for the survival of potential victims of disasters in the future. There is a great deal of puzzlement whether the mission of the conference in Sendai, Japan being organized by the United Nations coincides with the advocacy to save lives. Will the UN continue to just simplistically push for resilience?

Japan itself, where the conference will happen, has shown that it adopts our idea of relocation. Communities near the coast in the devastated areas of Fukushima, Sendai, among others in that country, have moved their homes to much higher ground to ensure their safety. The UN appears oblivious to this, but greater media mileage can educate others about this laudable move by the people of Japan – in the face of their great lament that national and sub-national government regrettably informed them that it had limited resources to support the resettlement. The victims decided upon the relocation themselves and went through with it anyway.

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Recently Japan suffered an 8.9 Magnitude earthquake with a subsequent 10-meter Tsunami following in its wake. Expected would be hundreds up to thousands dead and trillions up to quadrillions in Japanese Yen of damage.  The social loss and environmental degradation is even more devatasting with an oil refinery and many other industrial installations and facilities going up in flames or drowning and getting crushed in water. A lot of areas are affected: Fukushima, Obaida, Sendai, Hokkaido suffering the brunt of the tremor and many parts of Japan experienced minor aftershocks.

I dearly wish that Hon. Najib Tun Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, former Defense Minister and in charge of home defense, will be reading this article because this is like an Open Letter to PM Najib Tun Razak, more than anything else.

We have been preparing for a hazard mapping summit in Manila in April 2010 with funding from abroad that was lodged as part of a fund in a Malaysian bank, the CIMB that promised to shoulder the conversion from bond to cash. It appears that the CIMB does not have any capability to make true their promise. We moved the conference to November 2010.

At this time, we have moved  to another new timetable, after the middle of 2011.

We don’t mind if the time frame keeps moving.

But disasters keep happening over the past 23 months – which is the period of delay we have  experienced due to the inadequacy of our banking institution, CIMB Bank.

Now CIMB Bank has advised us to move the fund facility to another more capable bank but that will take hundreds of thousand of U.S. Dollars to do that, as it did the first time we had the fund lodged at CIMB .  In terms of Pesos, that would rake up nearly P12,ooo,ooo. and we thought we’d already gone past that.

I need not remind Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia,  that the danger of ever present disasters are now at our doorsteps. The floodings in China, the earthquake in Taiwan, Christchurch in New Zealand, an earlier earthquake in Haiti, Taiwan and so many more.  In just 23 months.  Excellency Mr. Prime Minister Najib Razak, we were together during the ruling party of the Philippines and Malaysia’s Youth Summit in Manila in 1993.  I wrote a lot to you as chair of the international organizing committee. And you wrote me back at least a few times through your external committee head Ibrahim. We go back that far, and this time, I do need your help.

It takes so little, as a mere conference, to define  a map of hazards in our environment in full color and understandable code. But it seems that opportunity will be lost to us even longer and more disasters can come and go and then we might nearly all be dead before we know it. And where is climate change in all of these disasters?  I don’t seem to see evidence of it that we can take to courts.  These occurrences are of another phenomenon and that plus climate change, with other factors put together are what we want to dwell on during the hazard mapping summit, dear Najib.

A lot of countries have written us about their interest in the hazard and environmental summit and how they can participate.  Even members of the United Nations have early expressed their interest. It appears that only your Malaysian Bank, CIMB with your own brother in it, Najib, is the least bit interested in helping us. I cannot overemphasize Najib, that the purpose of the hazard mapping summit is to identify areas where disasters will strike the hardest, on a medium scale or in an insignificant manner.  In this way, there is surely going to be better preparations than what we have seen from the pitiful experience of Christchurch, Japan and many other countries in the past.

I hope the Prime Minister of Japan Hon. Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of New Zealand Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of Haiti Jean Max Bellerive, can put in a word to you Najib, to please allow us to hold the hazard and environmental mapping summit in Manila at least this year 2011 before new and bigger disasters come by floating currency in favor of banks like CIMB.

Act now Najib, or the cooperation we talked about in the Malaysia-Philippines Youth Summit  and the following ICAPP meetings would have been for nothing. Do something for the environment before its too late and stop worrying for a moment about other things!!!  Let the hazard mapping summit happen!!!  God bless you Najib!!! Salam aleikum!!! – Sincerely, Solomon

P.S.

During the time of the former President, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, it was only Elaine Bautista (now Mrs. Horn) who responded to our communiques about the project.  In the time of His Excellency Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, I have already communicated with Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and one of my former co-workers in the ngo sector Dinky Soliman, but the only measly result of the communication was changing the name of National Disaster Coordinating Council into the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. How awful!  Of course, I cannot blame Sec. Gazmin. You can’t even be sure if he is comfortable in his position right now.  I guess I cannot care less if the government is serious or not in wanting to help this conference push through with.  We, on the other hand, are clearly serious in wanting to help the people of this country and our neighboring countries at least get a picture of what will happen in their own future.

It was written as early as 2004 by author Ezky that journalists will be victims of bloody terror killings.  The massacre in Buluan town, Maguindanao may be election violence-related, but it is a terrorist act no less.  It is a footnote to the presentation by Ezky that members of the media will not be spared from the bloodthirsty terrorists, whether in Mindanao or elsewhere.  While the author is not necessarily saying it for the first time since journalists have been known to have suffered execution at the hands of terror groups, in this case the author is saying that journalists en masse were hoarded and killed like animals.  The same way the alleged Ampatuan private army killed the Mangudadatus and the media in Maguindanao in what is now known as the Maguindanao massacre.

Recently, Harvard University Hazard Institute (HHI) and John Carroll University experts led by Dr. Patrick Meier and Dr. Jen Ziemke partnered in organizing an event called International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM 2009) in Cleveland USA on October.  Among the underlying issues for organizing the crisis mapping conference was the study of Dr. Ziemke on violence against innocent civilians. Manual map coding as part of the study was done by Dr. Ziemke to denote about forty years of conflict in an African country.

Dr. Ziemke’s findings are about the tendency of armed individuals and groups to commit violence against civilians when they are losing power.  Her case study was Angola.  She may have been saying the same about Colombia, Iraq, about many other countries in Africa and other parts of the world.

Are the Ampatuans losing power?  If they are and Dr. Ziemke’s findings are right, the political clan must have been losing power a long time ago.  The mass burial ground where the journalists were uncovered is notoriously called in Maguindanao as “Killing Fields.”  Among other things, the Ampatuans are suspect in the killings of many other enemies allegedly including a colonel in the uniformed services.  Like the others, the colonel’s vehicle was also buried in that same site.  Whether the equipment used was the same backhoe with the Ampatuan letterings in them, is no longer material.  The fact is, that site is full of bodies and is literally a mine of buried automobiles.

Perhaps the national security officials missed this part.  Although they were made aware of the Ziemke doctrine months before the Buluan Massacre, they did not have the intelligence that the Ampatuans are indeed suffering from pangs of anxiety over impending defeat.  What they knew about the incident was posthumous data, and really too late to make any judgment calls. At the time when rape and murder was taking place and the bodies were being mangled, all the authorities knew was that there was hostile boarding by the MNLF Tornado Command of the vehicles of the Mangudadatus and media persons.  No information about the bloodletting.  And yet it was known all over Maguindanao, including among the Mangudadatu clan that there will be violent acts that will be heaped upon them by the Ampatuans.

It will appear thus that the massacre was bound to happen.  In the South, among the tribal groups, there is an abnormal  cultural feature called the “ridu.”  It is similar to the vendetta, or blood feud between warring clans (or tribes) in other societies.  Muslim tribes take “ridu” very seriously and only put an end to it when well-meaning third parties initiate negotiations and settlement between the warring parties.

In this case, the “ridu” was brought a notch higher.  Supposedly, the Ampatuans were not expected to harm women.  And furthermore, there was no justification for involving media persons in the carnage.  But the act happened just the same and the women were even raped.

It is even claimed that the sister of Mayor Toto Mangudadatu while being raped by a prime suspect, stabbed the alleged rapist-murderer with her ball point pen in an area around the midsection.  Compelling evidence if the wound actually is there.  But this is all water under the bridge.  What happened will not bring back the victims to their loved ones.  And nowhere in history will journalists ever be safe again.  Along with many innocent civilians in this and selected other areas in Mindanao or elsewhere that there is serious conflict, as Ezky had many years ago foretold.

In the time of Estrada, serious talk going around in international circles was that Mindanao will become another Afghanistan.  It was even made a subject of a large international conference held in Mandarin Hotel with the people of Erap proudly receiving all the attention as the potential victim of Afghanistan-like terrorist mayhem and atrocities.  And the big brother role of the US will go to the Australians being the next door neighbors of the country and being that the Aussies can easily bring in troops to Mindanao for “humanitarian assistance.”

That is sheer bullshit.  Mindanao will not be Afghanistan.  Not if the people in this country will be wise to tell the ogres to stay the hell away and leave us in peace.  The solution is to remove the source of the hostility and the means with which to commit these barbaric atrocities.  That is easier said than done.  But it has just got to be done despite that ingenious  plan to turn Mindanao into a bigger killing field.

October 31, 2009

HIS EXCELLENCY
BAN KI-MOON
Secretary General
United Nations

Dear Mr. Secretary General:

Greetings!

Every 5th of June since 1972 is commemorated by the United Nations as the World Environment Day.

In 2010-2011, scientists report that there will be a solar maximum that has not occurred since fifty years ago as reported in this article from Science@NASA:

a (solar) storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one,” she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958. Read more about it here

This and other factors will result in major disasters during the period in question. Our group of professionals advocating environment protection and disaster damage diminution respectfully request the United Nations to support our effort to organize a Geo Hazard Mapping and Environment Summit in 2010 and we are determined that this gathering be convened in Manila, Philippines.

In this connection, may we respectfully request the following:

1. United Nations and its concerned departments participate in the Summit and help in organizing said event
2. The Year 2010 be declared as the International Geo Hazard Mapping Year
3. The month of April 2010 be declared as the International Disaster Risk Reduction Month; and finally,
4. The date of April 17, 2010 be declared as the first World Hazards Awareness Day.

That these declarations be formally announced in Manila prior to the Summit.

Thank you ever so much! Mabuhay!!!

Respectfully yours,

Organizers HMES 2010

The Philippines has a long way to go in weather forecasting.  For a long time, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or popularly known as PAGASA has been waiting for its order of at least ten S-band Doppler Radars.  The first delivery being half of the lot.  This has not happened.

PAGASA has been relying in part on the steady stream of free inputs with its membership in the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).  Certain quarters suggested the creation of a Philippine space agency in 2007 and a data communications (satellite) based agency as early as 1988.  No one listened to the proposals.  If the former Sec. Emilia Boncodin of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) even singlehandedly torpedoed down the creation of the Congress-legislated National Transport Safety Board, much more a space agency. And because of Boncodin’s single act, the whole situation is so fucked up that tragic disasters and crises involving mishaps at sea have been happening left and right and can’t be stopped from happening in the future. There were those who unnecessarily criticized and lambasted the proponent of a Philippine space agency, a retiring engineer at PAGASA, as foolish.

The project proposed to create a functional data communication agency, the Philippine Satellite Communication Operation, Research and Development Council (PSCRDC) in 1988, at the diminishing level of euphoria over EDSA I was probably just thrown in the garbage can.  If real and pseudo scholars will check at the Records Office in Malacañang, there is heavy doubt if the document was even registered as received by the Office of the President, even under the heading of Classified matter.  The project paper had a stamp of SECRET all over it.

The PSCRDC was clearly envisioned to be a Philippine space agency and it preceded the idea submitted by Engr. Bernardo Soriano.  Soriano appears to be an admin man, although he should be equipped with a doctorate after serving more than 30 years in PAGASA.  Why he submitted the idea for PASA could be due to his years of experiencing faulty detection and forecasting at PAGASA.

The Philippine Government should review the PAGASA proposal now and not at any other later time.  S-band Radars are all right.  But is it state-of-the-art in storm detection radars (SDR)?  If the investment to buy 10 radars will not cover the entire archipelago, what is the use of having the Dopplers?

Will it not pay more to have a stronger space agency and to invest more inputs for a mechanism to generate more data from outer space than is available today for the country?  After all, how many end-users are there for satellite data?  Nearly everyone has a use for information from outer space, not the least of which are those in the field of environment management, business, civil and military aviation, shipping, land transport, logistics, defense, law enforcement and just about any Googler and ArcGIS map user out there that includes many students, teachers, professionals who know how to.  And if you count them all, the number runs to millions.

That in itself is already a huge market.  Considering that the Philippine business traffic overlaps with those of many other countries, there is also revenue potential in this area.

For this reason, Cyberpark Telecom, our company has extended its sights towards business that relies on outer space data and possibly to generate a positive relationship with Smart Communications in this regard.

While there is only one Philippine satellite, see data from SatNews below, there is also great good that will come about if the satellite were boosted and fully equipped with new components and gadgetry to increase its sensing capabilities and other functions.  And that is where we come in.  If the Agila II Satellite people will not accept our offer, we can go shopping for other partners.  There are hundreds of satellites, real and artificial orbiting in outer space. India alone has ten satellites.  Or we could opt to launch our own satellites in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology in the near future.

By then, government must have renamed the PAGASA into a Philippine Space Agency as Soriano dreamed of.  But today we urge the administration of HE  PGMA to start pushing its cluster of agencies to map out the strengthening of RP’s capacities for using outer space as a valuable resource in many of its concerns.

As we are advocating in Resource Recovery Movement, there is a need for policy regime change in the area of mapping as it relates to environment, to global warming, to its many applications in engineering, architectural township planning, urban development, agriculture, etc.

The link to information on the Agila II Satellite: SatNews