“He does try,” commented one netizen of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who is shown in a widely-circulated photo on a motorbike while on an inspection trip in Taft, Samar, one of the areas where Super Typhoon Hagupit first made landfall. It can be noted that Roxas was not wearing a helmet as he tries to recover from a spill.
What a top-level cabinet secretary of the Philippine government was doing on a motorbike without a helmet on dangerous terrain is anybody’s guess. Certainly, there are ample professional field workers and emergency personnel who possess the right training on hand to do on-the-ground work. And by most measures, the efforts to mitigate the impact of Hagupit on Filipinos has been largely successful.
Laws mandating the use of helmets by motorcycle riders in the Philippines are so “strictly” enforced, that even traffic officers are arrested for offenses related to these…
Eduardo Arsenio, who is an agent of the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety, was apprehended on his way to work along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City yesterday.
Clad in his yellow traffic enforcer uniform, Arsenio was spotted scratching his head while a Land Transportation Office (LTO) law enforcer filled out a traffic violation ticket against him for using a substandard helmet that bore neither a Philippine Standard (PS) Seal nor an Import Commodity Clearance (ICC).
Republic Act 10054 or “Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009” mandates all motorcycle riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets which bear the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) of the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) and complies with the standards set by the BPS. Section 7 of the Act states that any person caught not wearing the standard protective motorcycle helmet shall be punished with a fine of one thousand five hundred pesos (Php1,500.00) for the first offense; three thousand pesos (Php3,000.00) for the second offense; five thousand pesos (Php5,000.00) for the third offense; and ten thousand pesos (Php10,000.00) plus confiscation of the driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses.
Some commentors speculated that Roxas’s wearing a helmet (which would have hidden his face from the cameras) would have defeated the whole purpose of his activities in Samar, likely alluding to all these being nothing more than publicity stunts. Roxas is widely-believed to be in the running for the Liberal Party’s choice of presidential candidate for the the Philippines’ 2016 election.
Meanwhile, Roxas’s celebrity wife broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez is also in the middle of a media circus thanks to remarks she supposedly made on-air. In a video clip purportedly from a 3rd December airing of ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol uploaded onto YouTube, Sanchez was heard seemingly encouraging Filipinos to pray that Super Typhoon Hagupit, at the time on an approach trajectory to the central islands of the Philippines, would spare the country and hit Japan instead. “They can handle it,” a voice seemingly belonging to Sanchez said in the background as various graphics were being flashed on screen.
Sanchez is no newbie when it comes to big-time gaffes, specially in the midst of powerful typhoons in which her husband aspires to be regarded as the man on top of the situation. Back in 2013 when Super Typhoon devastated central Philippines, she had her claws out at CNN journalist Anderson Cooper who fielded reports highly critical of the rescue and relief operations (led by Roxas) being mounted by the Philippine government at the time. She was also widely criticised for donating slippers that bore her name to Haiyan’s victims during the relief effort.
Nonetheless, it’s all up to Manila now to keep the impressively-low casualty score down. Thus far, as Super Typhoon Hagupit approaches Manila, it leaves in its wake just eight people dead — an improvement in disaster preparedness orders of magnitude over previous years when deaths counted in the thousands was routine. Manila is the Philippines’ most densely-populated urban centre, which means more people per square kilometre of Hagupit’s range of destruction than in any part of the country would be affected. However, being the Philippines’ premiere city and home to its affluent finance and business district, it is also the most sufficiently-equipped to deal with emergency situations.
Hagupit has since weakened from a “super typhoon” to just a tropical storm. As such its threat to Metro Manila will be more on account of the heavy rains it is expected to induce being the slow-moving storm that it is. Still, flooding and mud slides caused by heavy rains have claimed as many lives as storm surges and wind damage, so there is no resting on laurels yet.
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