Task Force Special

September 28, 2006

By Tara Katherine Yap in Guimaras

NO ONE saw it coming—that a tanker, carrying over two million liters of bunker fuel, would sink, much more cause environmental, health, and socio-economic hazards that have never been seen in this country before.

The government was caught off-guard. As a result, the management of the oil spill disaster in Guimaras and its neighboring areas has been marked by confusion. It is unclear who really calls the shots as there are too many officials and agencies involved and they operate in a multi-layered organization, including three task forces: Task Force Guimaras (national), Task Force Solar 1 Oil Spill (regional), and Task Force Sunrise (provincial).

The response to Guimaras is similar to the evacuation of Filipinos in Lebanon. Instead of tapping an existing and tested inter-agency crisis management committee, President Arroyo formed a task force headed by the vice president which worked separately from a presidential committee on Middle East preparedness and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The emergencies in Guimaras and Lebanon reflect the leadership style of Ms. Arroyo. Journalists who have covered her say that the President usually forms special bodies to deal with emergencies to show that the national government is responding. The message, they say, is the creation of the task force itself.

During the first week, only the municipality of Nueva Valencia, under Mayor Diosdado Gonzaga, and the regional Coast Guard responded. They handled the rescue operation of the crew of the ill-fated M/T Solar 1 and notified the concerned private and government agencies.

(For the full story, click Newsbreak October 9, 2006 issue online.)


One comment

  1. This is turning into a really, really sick joke that no one will ever gonna find amusing. The people in government remains to be out of whack just like in a badly produced soap opera. They only cater to a certain group of audience who are just too doped to change channels. I am physically sick.

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