[시사타임즈 = 이철원 시사타임즈 회장]
Mix of direct and indirect approaches
At the completion ceremony of Opong Elementary School, which we restored for the first time, the principal shed tears of gratitude and said, "If the Korean military had asked the mayor or the superintendent of which elementary school to restore, our school would not have benefited. This school has not received any support since it was established under President Marcos.” This was because, when asked for opinions from the heads of local governments and administrative agencies on disaster recovery needs and priorities, people or places related to their interests were recommended.
In fact, although a lot of aid was provided from outside, some villages that looked distasteful to the head of the local government or supported other candidates during the election did not receive any aid at all. Therefore, in the case of disaster recovery operations, rather than an indirect approach through the head of a local government, we prioritized the 'direct approach', which we judged after reconnaissance, while minimizing conflicts of opinion with them.
It was only then that it was determined that practical support could be provided to the affected residents. If we listened to the opinions of high-ranking people and supported them, we would not have been loved so much by the residents in a state where the victims' dissatisfaction with the Philippine government and the heads of local governments prevailed. Of course, on the surface, it seemed that the decision was made through consultation with the head of the local government, but in fact, only opinions were collected from them. In addition, we made our own decisions and presented valid grounds and reasons to the local government and the Philippine military for decisions made. On one occasion, 100 computers were sponsored by the Christian organization World Diaconia and distributed directly to the school we restored. Since then, the Leyte State Superintendent has been uncooperative. However, if we had given the superintendent of all 100s to distribute them, it would not have been possible to achieve an even distribution to the elementary schools we wanted.
Overcoming the gap between the level of demand of local residents and our ability to support by breaking through head-on
On December 29, 2013, the day after arrival, at the strong request of the Philippine Disaster Response Headquarters, despite the Christmas holiday, the Philippine military, the Philippine Disaster Response Headquarters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the Governor , the first cooperation meeting was held in the form of a press conference or hearing in front of the mayor, related organizations, and the media. The purpose of the meeting was to formally introduce the Korean troops arriving in the field and to discuss disaster recovery priorities. Residents were expecting that the Korean military units would recover from the typhoon just like Superman. Not only me, but also the Philippine Army and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) were aware of the huge gap between these high expectations and our capabilities.
When the participants' excessive demands for the South Korean army rained down, Colonel Bondok of the Philippine Army's disaster recovery team said, "The Korean military will not perform a complete reconstruction, but will repair some public facilities, remove debris, and maintain roads. limited.” Accordingly, I briefly introduced the unit missions and equipment status, and then presented the following concept of disaster recovery support for the Korean military in order not to make unreasonable demands by accurately presenting our capabilities.
I. The area of operation of the ROK Army is Palo, Tanawan, and Tolosa, excluding Tacloban, among the most damaged areas in Leyte.
2. The ROK Army Corps of Engineers operates as a heavy equipment team and a building restoration team, and heavy equipment is provided for the mayors of three cities to take the lead.
3. The building restoration team will focus on the restoration of elementary schools in three cities to support the normal operation of schools.
4. The medical team operates a hospital in the camp, provides medical support to remote villages, and supports all areas, including Tacloban, for quarantine.
5. Relief supplies are distributed mainly to refugee camps and elementary schools in cooperation with mayors.
In this announcement, the governor and the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested that the hospitals be restored first because the schools are important, but the hospitals are seriously damaged while the external medical support team is leaving. Meanwhile, the mayor of Tacloban said, “Why doesn't the ROK military support Tacloban?” and strongly complained about Tacloban being excluded from the ROK Army's key operational area.
In response, I said, "Tacloban is the area most affected by typhoons, but external support is being intensively provided. The South Korean government and the Philippine government have agreed that the South Korean military will support three cities south of Tacloban, which are relatively unsupported.”In general, the interests of many international organizations, local governments, and residents in relation to recovery from damage were complicatedly entangled. There was a possibility that this could cause conflict, but when the South Korean military said that they would act fairly in the three regions and give the mayor the right to operate heavy equipment, everyone agreed and welcomed it. Coming from the meeting, I thought,“The local situation and interests are complex, so we need to take wise actions.”
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