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The Philippines – Drowning in a Storm of Semantics…

Most of the 1000 fatalities in the southern Philippines typhoon and flood disaster this December lost their lives "due to the process resulting in primary respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in a liquid medium". That is the Philippines Department of Health (DOH) definition of "drowning".

Apparently many drowned because they couldn't swim. There is barely no research to back up this statement, but according to the Philippines Daily Inquirer newspaper, it is based on anecdotal evidence. Lifeboat volunteers were asking children bobbing up and down in the sea, surrounded by dangerous logs and clinging on for grim death "Can you swim?"

The suggestion is that if they had the basic skill many would have survived.

What is the implication I wonder? Here you have one of the worst disasters to hit the Philippines for many years – a disaster which experts had been warning about regularly; a disaster compounded by illegal logging and deforestation; uncontrolled slum dwellings along river banks; over population; and instead of addressing all of those factors, the victims are blamed because they carelessly failed to learn to swim! How inconsiderate!

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December 26, 2011 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, General, History, Politics, Science, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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