Philippines: Humanitarian Bulletin Issue 3 | April 2018

Situation Report
Originally published



  • The Government of the Philippines and international humanitarian organizations exercise their response plans for a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila.

  • Effective local leadership and inclusive partnerships are key to a successful response to the Mayon volcano eruption.

  • Food, protection and livelihoods are among the top unmet needs facing returnees and people still displaced by the Marawi conflict.


Marawi Conflict

Number of displaced persons - 305,642

Number of returned persons - 159,175

(Source: DSWD as of 19 March)

Zamboanga Crisis

Number of persons in transitional sites - 2,340

(Source: Zamboanga City Social Welfare and Development Office as of 28 March)

Are we ready for the 'Big One'? Preparing for a catastrophic Metro Manila earthquake

One of the most vulnerable places on earth to natural disasters

Deadly tropical cyclones, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are just some of the natural disasters the Philippines—located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and in the direct path of tropical storms that develop in the Western Pacific—suffers from on nearly an annual basis. The entire archipelago, including its National Capital Region, is always vulnerable to at least some of these hazards.

Metro Manila, the most densely populated region of the country, is an amalgamation of 16 cities and one municipality home to at least 12.9 million people—swelling to about 17 million during the work week. It not only serves as the seat of the national government, but also the country’s primary business hub.

Serious earthquakes in northern Mindanao, Leyte and Batangas in 2017 have reminded residents that the ‘Big One’, a potential 7.2-magnitude earthquake, is due to hit Metro Manila at any time. The area is traversed by two faults, the East and West Valley Faults, collectively known as the Valley Fault System. The West Valley Fault, based on historical data and studies, could produce such a catastrophic earthquake.

The return period of an earthquake of this magnitude is estimated at about 200 to 400 years. No large earthquake has occurred along the West Valley Fault since the 1700s, and the last significant event was in 1658, 360 years ago.

Government preparations

National and local authorities have been studying and preparing to respond for over a decade, including the quarterly conduct of nationwide earthquake drills that government, civil society and private sector organizations regularly participate in. Two studies have been made to determine the possible impact of such an earthquake.

In 2004, the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) Project was conducted with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). A decade later, risk calculations and maps were updated under the Greater Metro Manila Area Risk Assessment Project with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Geoscience Australia and PHIVOLCS. MMDA’s Oplan Metro Yakal and its integrated earthquake contingency plan (Oplan Metro Yakal Plus) were formulated from the findings of the MMEIRS.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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