Philippines: Disaster Management Reference Handbook (March 2018)

Executive Summary

The Philippines has a high vulnerability to natural hazards which are attributed to the nation’s geographic position in Southeast Asia. Natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and fires affect the country. Volcanic eruptions and tsunamis are related to the continental plate activity around “the Ring of Fire”. Because it is one of the most geologically active areas, it is nicknamed “The Ring of Fire”. This is a circular arm of active volcanoes that surrounds the Pacific Ocean basin. This area in the Pacific Ocean covers nearly 25,000 miles from the southern tip of South America, to the west coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, through Japan, and into New Zealand. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda), one of the deadliest disasters to strike the Philippines, affected 26 million people and claimed at least 8,000 lives. Rising sea levels are also a direct threat to approximately 70 percent of the Philippine population, which has forced many to relocate as a result. In addition, climate change has also increased the severity and frequency of natural disasters in the country.

The agricultural tradition and rapid development in some areas of the country leave large portions of the population and the economy vulnerable to natural hazards. Apart from the metropolitan regions, the agricultural workers and fishermen are the most affected population by natural disasters. Approximately one-third of the Philippines total population are employed in the agriculture sector and natural disasters pose significant threats to this population’s food security and sources of income.

The Philippine Government, International Non-government Organizations (INGOs) and local NGOs are all making attempts to address the impact of disasters and climate change at various levels. The Philippine Government has made significant strides in the implementation of disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning and activities through the development of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) which acts as the lead agency for DRR in the Philippines. The disaster focal points are the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defence (OCD). The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is responsible for leading immediate disaster relief efforts.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a primary responder in disasters and have been deployed frequently to several disaster relief operations in the country in recent years. The Philippines has endured disasters that involve national and international assistance.

There is increased awareness on disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, but proper integration with climate change adaptation and sustainable development policies can be improved. Disaster risk reduction management and climate change adaptation have been integrated in various plans and framework; however, multiple plans can be overwhelming for local government units. The Philippine Government has learned from Typhoon Haiyan that risk communication is essential and through the NDRRMC has issued very specific warnings regarding potential storm impacts as a result.