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.