Church people like pastors, priests and religious leaders can easily interpret that calamities like earthquakes, typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions are signs of the wrath of God because of the sinfulness of the people. Other ministers will easily declare that these are signs of the “doomsday” that would immediately or inevitably come.
They even quote these verses:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. [a]
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. [b] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” (2 Peter 3:10-12).
However, church people, regardless of their church, faith or religious affiliation should understand calamities based on scientific ways.
Calamities are natural phenomenon that affect the life of the people.
A dictionary meaning of calamity is that “an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.”
At present, there are two types of disasters. A natural disaster and the other is the human-made disaster.
A natural disaster is an event caused by natural processes of the Earth. Natural disasters include floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and many more. Natural disasters occur across the world. In the Philippines, natural disasters happen sometimes unnoticed. The people are just shocked of the devastating effects.
Natural disasters cause extensive damage to people’s life, life of animals and plants, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage, property and economy of the country.
Human-made disaster is consequence of technological or human risks like the result of human activities such as forest degradation or logging, pollution, engineering and construction, war, bombing, mining and other activities that destabilize the climate of the earth.
Other types of human-made disasters are the catastrophic global warming, nuclear war, war on terrorism and imperialist aggression.
Calamities experienced by the people when there is state negligence, criminal neglect or lack of accountability turn into human-made disasters.
Natural and human-made disasters usually occur in developing or under-developed countries.
The developing or underdeveloped countries suffer from natural disasters due to ineffective communication combined with insufficient budgetary allocation for disaster prevention and management like the Philippines.
The developing or underdeveloped countries suffer also from human-made disasters because the budget of the government will go to the corrupt government officials.
More so because the economic policies of these countries are subservient to foreign interests without consideration of plunder of the resources of these countries and peoples that would eventually make the effects of the calamities feel like the worse condemnations of these human sins or ‘wrath of God.’
Catastrophic volcanic eruptions across the planet are caused by global climate warming. Natural disasters increasingly linked to climate change.
According to Gioachino Roberti, a PhD student at the University of Clermont Auvergne (European Geosciences Union General Assembly held from April 8 to 13, 2018, EcoWatch website), “glaciers can suppress volcanic eruptions by providing mountains with structural stability.”
“As the climate becomes warmer, ice melting from these mountains removes support from their slopes, potentially leading to landslides and collapse,” Roberti added.
“Imagine the ice like some sort of protective layer – when the ice melts away, the mountain is free to collapse,” said Mr Roberti.
The scientists who were participants of the assembly attributed the rise in frequency and severity of natural disasters to climate change.
They claimed that “today’s global warming could mean more and bigger volcanic eruptions in the future.”
As the scientists will further convince the Filipinos to study more about the climate change to understand the recent natural disasters in the Philippines, the other catastrophic disaster we now face amid Taal eruption and continued unrest is the lack of (or missing?) calamity funds of the country.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año appealed for “clean drinking water, food, emergency medicines and other basic essentials” for Taal volcano eruption victims.
Secretary Año’s appeal instead drew flak and had drawn a basic, salient question: Where is the calamity fund?
The Office of the President budget for 2020 is P8.2 billion, of which the confidential and intelligence fund is P4.5 billion. The General Appropriations Act allocation is only P6.77 billion.
The Senate allocated P 20 billion, but the bicameral committee of Congress had slashed as much as P4 billion from the calamity funds that the Senate had earmarked for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Senator Panfilo Lacson asked on Saturday, where did the P 4 billion go?
Apart from the congressmen pork barrel controversies that hounded the 2020 budget deliberations, now the public is asking amid Año’s appeal for donations why Congress cut the calamity fund by 11 billion pesos and increased the budget of the Office of the President. Social media was abuzz with the 11-billion calamity fund cut in response to Año.
A calamity fund is a lump sum fund that would be used for aid, relief and rehabilitation services of a government to communities affected by human-made and natural calamities.
The fund is also used for repair and reconstruction of permanent structures, capital expenditures for pre-disaster operations, rehabilitation efforts and other activities.
The Office of the President, Office of the Civil Defense, the National Disaster and Risk Reduction and Management Council, and the Department of Budget and Management are the government agencies directly involved in spending the calamity fund.
Disasters can be scientifically understood through the events that occur in the lives of the people. Disasters can be also explained historically.
For a long time, the socio-economic policies that the government has implemented are only favorable to the big monopoly foreign capitalists and a few wealthy, powerful families (oligarchy), which is caused by the intense and widespread destruction of the Philippine ecology and natural resources.
Under these policies, private capitalists are given full advantage, especially the foreign monopoly capitalists, to plunder the country’s economy while the government and the people are prevented from any power to stop this.
These policies are dictated by foreign power, led by the United States, China and the international agencies that dominate the Philippines such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), so that the Philippines can continue to be a source of cheap raw materials, cheap labor reserve, and remain a market to surplus products of big capitalists and developed capitalist countries.
They partner with big local businesses, big landlords, local capitalists and corrupt officials from the government in this systematic plunder of our economy, natural resources and labor.
If these policies do not change, the country will not progress, remain unequal and we will not have true national development and a way to justice and long-lasting peace.
Thus, the disasters in the Philippines are not the signs of doomsday or God’s wrath. They are now mostly human-made due to corruption, criminal neglect and lack of accountability.
The people’s salvation, in this case, is in the people’s hands as well, for them to do away with these evils that turn natural calamities into the worst albeit avoidable human-made disasters.