Preparing for the Typhoon Season

The Philippines remains the third most vulnerable country to risks and hazards brought about by disasters according to Work Risk Rankings for 2018. But still, the Philippine government has continuously underinvested in disaster management. 

The rainy season officially began on 14 June 2019, as declared by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Parts of Metro Manila and its nearby provinces have already started to experience sporadic but torrential rains in the last couple of weeks, which has caused flooding and severe traffic congestion in many busy highways and roads situated along business districts. About 10-17 typhoon cyclones are expected to hit the country from June to November of this year.

Based on the Work Risk Rankings for 2018, the Philippines remains the third most vulnerable country to risks and hazards brought about by disasters. Estimates from studies also show that about 130 million Filipinos have been affected by weather-related disasters. The advent of the rainy season will once again test the government's readiness in terms of disaster preparation, mitigation and rehabilitation. 

Sadly, the Philippine government has continuously underinvested in disaster management. Based on the 2019 National Budget, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management fund was reduced to only about Php 20 Billion from the originally proposed Php 30 Billion. This further constrains the ability of government to cover all costs for preparation, mitigation and rehabilitation, as average yearly damages due to typhoons are already at about Php 15 Billion.

The coordination between and among government agencies and LGUs continues to be an area of concern. While there are existing institutional structures at the local and national level for disaster preparation, mitigation and rehabilitation, the lead agency National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) remains largely ineffective as a mere coordinating instead of being a directing body. Efforts to strength the lead disaster agency in the country through the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) remains pending in Congress. The DDR is intended to lead and manage efforts on disaster preparation and response, rehabilitation of hard-hit areas, and risk reduction related to natural and human-induced hazards.

There are also a number of families who continue to live in high-risk areas prone to flooding and landslides. Worse, some families refuse to leave their homes behind and be evacuated during emergency situations even as their lives are already in danger. 

Disaster Management is a shared responsibility between government, civil society and citizens. We do not want another repeat of Typhoon Ondoy or Yolanda. At this stage, all societal units should already be gearing up for different scenarios in the event of a typhoon. 

The impacts of Climate Change are no longer predictable; hence we should not be complacent. Lives are at stake when disasters strike. We must prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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