Philippines: Typhoon Phanfone, Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation Update n° 3 (MDRPH038)



Description of the disaster Typhoon Phanfone (locally named Ursula) made initial landfall on 24 December 2019 at 16:45 in Salcedo, Eastern Samar as a category-2 typhoon. The typhoon travelled across the country in the Visayas region following a similar path to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013, making a total of seven landfalls in as many provinces, over two days in Eastern Samar, Leyte, Biliran, Gigantes Islands, Aklan, Antique and Oriental Mindoro. Between 25 and 30 December, 26 municipalities were declared under state of calamity.

Typhoon Phanfone was the 21st tropical cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2019, exceeding the annual average of 20. The typhoon occurred while the authorities and partner organizations were already responding to public health emergencies (measles and polio, MDRPH032 and COVID-19, MDR00005), earthquakes (Mindanao, MDRPH036) and typhoon (Kammuri, MDRPH037). Since the start of 2020, and the eruption of the Taal volcano (MDRPH039) have been added to this list of operations and the Mindanao Returnees (MDRPH040).

Effects of COVID-19 to Typhoon Phanfone operation

On 12 March 2020, the Philippines raised the COVID-19 alert system to “Code Red Sub-Level 2” imposing community quarantine in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other mitigation measures, including suspension of classes, mass gatherings and nonessential work, flexible work arrangements, as well as restrictions on land, domestic air and sea travel. On 15 March 2020, President Duterte announced that the entirety of the Luzon island, the country’s largest and most populated island, would be placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) until 12 April 2020, and later, on 7 April 2020, extended to 30 April 2020. On 17 March 2020, the President issued Proclamation No. 929, declaring the Philippines under a state of calamity for a tentative period of six months. On 24 March the President signed the “Bayanihan To Heal as One” Act into law, providing him with emergency powers to further strengthen the government response to COVID-19. During reporting, although restrictions have started to ease in many provinces of the country, community quarantines are still in effect.

Many operational activities were put on hold in compliance to the government’s imposition of movement restrictions.
The IFRC Country Office (CO) has been working in collaboration with their counterparts in Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to assess the implications of the community quarantines and restrictions being enforced in Typhoon Phanfone operational areas;,and identify measures to mitigate any negative impact on the implementation of activities and communities being served. This has led to recommendations related to the mainstreaming of COVID-19 sensitive approaches into ongoing activities to protect recipients of assistance, staff and volunteers, through revised registration protocols and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). Implementation of remaining activities was expected to be completed by September 2020. However, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, and based on the revised activity plan, this is now expected to be done by November 2020, which is still within the operating timeframe (end of December 2020). The IFRC CO and PRC are monitoring the situation closely in the event there are further unforeseen disruptions that need to be accommodated.