Thursday, November 14, 2013


My grandma's house in Tolosa, Leyte, 100 meters from the sea. Thanks to Noel Rosalia for the photo.

November 14, 2013

Dear private sector groups and concerned local governments:

LET me skip the usual greetings and head straight to the meat of this.
     I am from Leyte and would like to help my Typhoon Yolanda disaster-stricken ka-rehiyons of Leyte and Samar islands.
     I have a proposal for you.
     As you may be aware, lots of donations have been stalled by several factors affecting distribution. Your donations may have reached the drop-off capital, but their distribution may yet have to be quickly implemented or spread equitably in the wide area; again, due to various logistical reasons (roads closed due to debris and fallen trees and electric posts; security risks; etc.).
     You may also be aware that the scope and breadth of the disaster area would leave any government distressed by solutions that may prove un-actionable or constrained. You would certainly have heard of the fact that many of the local government units (LGUs) in the affected areas have ceased to function for several reasons (LGU personnel, vehicles and equipment disabled; etc.).
     With police personnel and their families counted as victims of the disaster themselves, there has been a breakdown of law and order in some parts of the city and the neighboring towns, with reports of looting, burglary, robbery, even rape, coming in, not to mention mass hysteria.
     Clearly, the national government can’t do the relief job in the area alone. Conversely, the national government must accept the fact that it cannot do the tough task of covering all the areas of disaster alone.
     The private sector as well as other concerned LGUs in the country not affected by the disaster must chip in. The national government, meanwhile, must facilitate for the entry of corporate entities and LGUs from other parts of the nation into the sphere of distribution.
     And so, at the risk of being called crazy which is all right with me, here is my 4-point proposal:

1.) As someone who speaks the language of Leyte and Samar, I am willing to be dropped off and embedded (optionally, maybe with a few men and women volunteers) in a town I grew up in, namely Palo, Leyte, where I have friends and am known by not a few people, so that I and my crew can be left to organize a temporary tanod force (in the absence or insufficiency of an existing one). Organizing a temporary tanod force would enable any sponsoring corporation or donor-LGU to establish a relief base and tent headquarters there, as well as a secured cleared area to serve as a helipad. (In Palo's case, the lawn of Saint Mary's Academy is a perfect spot for a helicopter landing). Once the tanod force is established and orderly relief distribution is guaranteed, I and my crew can communicate by sat phone the practicability of starting the relief work there with the guarantee that helicopter shipments (or seaplane shipments via Palo's Red Beach) can start to flow in and smooth distribution can ensue.
2.) This process of embedding people and organizing temporary barangay governments and then establishing relief bases can be duplicated in another area, and in another area, and in another, so that we'll have a multiplicity of relief bases.
3.) Just as these bases are there to augment the national government’s own, our tanod forces must be there to likewise merely augment existing government forces. Every private-sector relief base’s security, along with its tanod force, may be commanded by an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) platoon. After establishing the temporary tanod force and the relief base, the first helicopter shipment can carry with it a platoon of AFP personnel to oversee the tanod force.
4.) Having established multiple relief bases across the wide disaster area, the relationship between relief donor and recipient town/large barangay may be strengthened by applying an ADOPT A TOWN or ADOPT A LARGE CITY BARANGAY program. This will not only enable donor corporations or donor LGUs to focus their donations (and even rehabilitation efforts) on an adopted area, the relationship between donor and recipient can also be made long-standing. In the case of donor-LGUs, they may likewise send augmentation tanod forces from their towns/cities/provinces to facilitate the relief (and rehabilitation efforts) of their adopted bases, and thus establish twin-town partnerships. In the case of corporate sponsors, they would have practically locked an edge into a market, if not officially (because that would be illegal), at least by virtue of the town's possible collective feeling of gratitude.

There you go. That’s my 4-point proposal.
     I leave this plan to any of you in the corporate world or among the concerned LGUs to use, refine, enlarge, and what have you, for what they may be worth. Simply e-mail me at or message me on Facebook (my public account is “Jojo Soria de Veyra”) should you need me. I am ready to be your first embedded agent.
     Thank you for reading,



The now-roofless cathedral in Palo, Leyte. Photo borrowed from