Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:27
"There will be confusion then chaos if desperate people are kept in the dark."
Thus warned Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza, head of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) as he urged for the immediate restoration of mass communication facilities in the affected areas of "Typhoon Yolanda."
Dureza observed that there is total breakdown of information system due to the devastation and it is urgent that this is restored immediately to help in the post-calamity interventions.
The PPI , the national organization of Philippine newspapers, through its president, rallied the media sector to help "locate missing mediamen" and assist them to immediately resume media operations. "Public information is badly needed in the devastated area. Today, the people are still in shock and are hungry not only for food but for information," Dureza said.
He also urged the government to install temporary mass communication facilities to help restore order and provide support to the massive relief logistics operations underway. He said that based on his previous experience of handling calamity situations as presidential adviser for Mindanao, there will be confusion and chaos if desperate people are kept in the dark for an extended period, he stressed. The media can help give information on relief operations, allay fears and even give hope to the hopeless , Dureza added.
Radio, TV and print media operations beamed locally are indespensable in bringing to the affected masses timely information vital to the on-going relief work, he pointed out. Athough there are swarms of Manila and international mediamen already descending in the area for news consumption of the public outside , what is critically needed is the resumption of media for the locally affected masses, he said. For example, massive distribution of transistorized radios through the barangays tuned in to radio stations from neighboring population centers which are operational can be a stop gap measure, Dureza advised. A communications component, however make-shift it may be, is vital in any massive relief operations such as this one, he concluded.
Some publishers and editors, including reporters from Tacloban and Ormoc cities are still unaccounted for. An urgent appeal for assistance was received by the PPI office in Manila from managing editor Ruivevar Reyes of the Southern Leyte Times who is also PPI vice president based in Maasin City. His last report said that he was worried that due to panic buying, Maaasin which was not directly hit would soon run out of food and fuel. He posted a list of mediamen still unaccounted for. Another publisher-editor, Lalaine Jimenea of the weekly Eastern Visayas Mail based in Ormoc City said houses of her reporters had been totally destroyed and they were in urgent need of food, medicines and shelter.
Dureza said the PPI will pool some assistance from donors as "quick reaction fund" to provide immediate help to mediamen in need.
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