Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thinking Out of the Box 26

NDCC Figures: Fact or Fiction? 3

A week past the perfect storm called Ondoy (International code name Ketsana), another typhoon battered the Philippines, Pepeng (Parma), leaving thousands of people homeless, more than 600 deaths, and several injuries. Estimated damages run into billions of local currency.

Once more, it would be helpful to review the data provided by the disaster authority of the country, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Don't loose heart. Numbers are good for us so that we will understand the impact of the losses that has happened, and what the government is doing, or not doing, in times of calamities.

Let us look at Figure 1 (see below). This Figure tells us the number of casualties (deaths, injuries, and missing) brought about by typhoon Ketsana that wiped out most parts of the National Capital Region (NCR). It shows that when typhoon Ketsana struck the NCR on 26 Sept 2009, five people were initially reported by the NDCC. As expected, with the torrential rains and winds plus the floodwaters, the number of people who died swelled to 293 on 30 Sept.

The following day, 1 Oct, 277 people were reported to have died. Notice the red circles in Figure 1. On 2 Oct, the NDCC reported 293 deaths. On 3-4 Oct, the number of deaths shrunk to 288. What do these mean? Did some people come back to life? Or were there errors in reporting?

Let's move on. Since the beginning of Ketsana, about five people were reported to have injuries. Whatever injuries means to the NDCC, how they defined it, I do not know. Now, notice the blue circle and arrows. On 7 Oct, there were only five injuries. On 8 Oct, there were suddenly 308 injuries. What does this mean? All of a sudden, many people rushed to the hospitals for treatment? Or were there errors in reporting?

Now look at 9, 10 and 12 Oct where the red arrows point. There were no reports of any casualty. For three days, no one knew how many have died, were injured, and were missing. What does this mean? Was the NDCC too busy to report the data because of relief operations? I do not know.
Click the image to enlarge

Now, let us look at Figure 2. This tells the effects of typhoon Parma that devastated the northern part of the Philippines. As we know, landslides, mudslides, and floodwaters occurred in this area. This Figure reflects, an increasing trend of deaths and injuries, which is closer to reality. Understandably, the numbers of missing people will fluctuate because some of them will be found.
Click the image to enlarge

Now, let us compare Figures 1 and 2. Did you notice anything? Yes, that is right. The data in Figure 2 are more realistic than Figure 1. What on earth does that imply? I am not exactly sure but I can offer some inferences. One, there could be better reporting in the northern parts of our country than the NCR. Two, the NDCC might have recovered from the aftershocks of Ketsana that left them unprepared few days earlier. I may be wrong.

What does the NDCC have to say about their data? How do they account for the fluctuating deaths and the absence of data? Is their report reliable?

Overall, what do these things mean? The essence of the article is this: accurate reporting should be done at all times particularly by authorities like the NDCC. Being the body from which the highest person in the land, the President that is, relies his or her decisions, factual data are necessary at any given moment. If the reports were doubtful, wrong decisions will most likely result and could bring catastrophic and suspicious results. Such is the case of the declaration of state of calamity for the entire archipelago including the southern parts, Visayas and Mindanao, which were not affected by the typhoons.

If a state of calamity were declared, there is a huge possibility of the abuse of taxpayers' money by the local executives. That is, your money. The funds that will be released may not be subject to any auditing system, and therefore, will perpetuate graft and corruption. Fortunately, as of this writing, the state of calamity has been lifted in many parts of the country.

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