Preparedness for disasters and calamities in the Philippines

As an archipelago located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and along the Typhoon Belt, the Philippines plays host to dozens of typhoons each year and is home to a handful of active volcanoes. This makes the Philippines highly prone to natural calamities and disasters, which requires strong disaster management and preparedness plans for national and local government units.

The devastating Bohol earthquake in October 2013, the world’s strongest super typhoon, Haiyan (local codename Yolanda), which hit Tacloban City in November 2013, and Typhoon Goni, which hit Catanduanes in November 2020 .

With years of calamities rocking the nation at close intervals, disaster preparedness has become a daily routine for some Filipinos, including those who live near faultlines and active volcanoes.

Disaster Preparedness by Albayanos: The Perfect Example

The Albayanos, who have more or less perfected disaster mitigation through foolproof evacuation plans and general preparedness, are leading the charge to shine a light on disaster preparedness. In fact, the United Nations (UN) has declared Albay its global role model in climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and Salceda, a multi-award-winning campaigner for the ACC and the RRC, as its main world champion. and spokesperson for CCA-DRR.

Albay, one of the most disaster-prone areas in the country, has pioneered CCA-DRR programs that have earned its awards and accolades from national and international institutions. These accolades include three Gawad Kalasag Awards and a National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Hall of Fame niche.

Albay has invested heavily in strengthening infrastructure to mitigate damage during calamities, as well as disaster preparedness products to ensure they are well equipped when calamities should occur.

His multi-billion peso Albay Guidacale (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) economic township program was initially a geostrategic intervention to move people from at-risk areas to safer land, but it is quickly turning into a platform economic development to transform its 64,000 hectare area. in a sprawling business center.

The provincial government of Albay now conducts regular risk reduction trainings in schools and local communities and has put in place early warning systems and emergency management equipment.

What measures has the government taken for disaster and calamity preparedness?

In the face of growing concerns over causeless events, such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), formerly known as the National Disaster Coordination Council, recognized the value of setting aside a designated period for people to focus their attention on the need to prepare for natural disasters. Some of the efforts of the government in place today include:

Government Agencies Earthquake Response Programs

According to Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, mandated government agencies are required to create programs to reduce the risk of earthquakes. These can include plans that address disaster vulnerabilities, the implementation of disaster risk reduction programs, as well as policy and socio-economic development planning.

DOST Geohazards Mapping

The Department of Science and Technology has developed maps related to earthquakes and volcanoes that aim to increase the online accessibility of crucial environmental and hazard information for Filipinos.

National Buildings and Structures Regulations

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology stressed the need for strict regulations on buildings and structures to minimize the impact of earthquakes, citing a study that found half a million residential buildings in the Metro Manila would be heavily or partially damaged if a magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurs in the West Valley Fault, also known as the Marikina Fault Line, which crosses Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Metro Manila, as well as Quezon City, Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa.

In addition to these government plans and programs, various groups and individuals see the need to assess whether Filipinos have already complied with the requirements of the new Building Code and other relevant regulations, including the renovation of homes, buildings and other structures.

It is also necessary to check whether the country has enough essential resources in case of an earthquake, in the form of hospitals, disaster management centers, roads, audiovisual media, fire stations and ambulance and telecommunications facilities.

Proper dissemination of information is also necessary to properly prepare citizens for impending disaster. Through learning programs and even International Days for Disaster Risk Reduction, various government agencies and non-governmental organizations can reach out to Filipinos and ensure they have all the necessary information so they know how they will react for their own safety.

Has the Philippines managed to soften the blow of disasters and calamities?

Fortunately, thanks to the countless mitigation efforts of the Philippine government, as well as the efforts of non-governmental institutions to disseminate crucial information as well as to create disaster and calamity preparedness plans and systems, we have now begun to see palpable effects in our catastrophe. reliability. From falling death tolls to effectively distributing supplies to affected families, the Philippines has finally begun to prepare well for disasters.

In 2014 Typhoon Ruby hit Eastern Samar and Masbate. Thanks to early preparations and government efforts, we have had overall success in averting a massive death toll, showing that the Philippines has finally found a way to mitigate the damage inflicted by the storms. While Ruby was not as strong as Haiyan – one of the most devastating typhoons in the Philippines, there was no comparison in terms of loss of life.

This success has been widely attributed to three words: “Preventive Mandatory Evacuation”. Data from the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management shows more than a million Filipinos were pushed out of Ruby’s path, compared to 125,000 who were forced to evacuate their homes when Yolanda approached the country in November 2013. Interestingly, the initial paths of the two storms were nearly the same.

“The government’s rapid evacuation response saved many injuries and even death,” UN Children’s Fund representative in the Philippines Lotta Sylwander said in a statement.

Executing an escape plan of this magnitude is not easy, by any measure. It requires tight coordination, from the top down to the person responsible for knocking on the doors of those who need to be moved. Supplies must be in place and protected from damage.

As our response to Ruby showed, we had a good system in place and people who implemented it correctly.

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