Commentary

Is it wrong to demand accountability at the time of the disaster?

The Naga City, Cebu landslide is all over the news. As of writing, more than 20 people had been confirmed dead, with at least 40 yet missing.

On Facebook, I posted this:

[missing image]

A friend of mine retorted: “Concentrate on the rescue first. Sue later.”

The suing would be later, of course. But the data collection should happen now. Eyewitness accounts of what happened should be reduced into written form, for future reference. Estimates of the damage, both material and moral, should already be documented.

Some friends also raised the concern that the focus right now should be the search and possible rescue of those who are still trapped in the mountain of soil which slid. They seemed to imply that it is not proper to demand for accountability while the tragedy is still fresh, and in fact, still on-going, as we have not yet found all the bodies.

I beg to disagree. In my opinion, the closer are we to the time of the tragedy, the more should we ask and demand for accountability of those who are responsible. A fresh wound hurts more, and pain propels us to seek justice.

Just look at what happened to the Yolanda victims. Five years after the tragedy, nobody was deemed criminally or even administratively responsible for the utter failure of the government to mitigate the tragedy. We did not even have it properly investigated, with the lessons learned from the disaster written down for reference purposes.

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