wpf editorial


How the Philippines fares in a natural catastrophe

Adonis S. Manzan | January 29, 2019

Its tourism potential continuously growing in combination with stellar economic performance in recent years has made the Philippines an attractive haven for investors. Economic reforms have been introduced to reinforce its slate for continued growth, which somewhat insulates us from the effects of overseas market hostilities and natural disasters we incur every year.

 A United Nations (UN) report in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013 described the country as most vulnerable to natural disasters, with a significant portion of its population living along immediate coastlines. In 2018, 10 significant storm-induced crisis left many communities grappling for much-needed assistance in light of sea destruction and humanitarian challenges. Hundreds of billions of pesos are needed for rehabilitation and disaster-resilient efforts to mitigate the harsh and increasingly wicked weather pattern over time. Unless done, huge losses to several industries will continue to threaten the country’s economic viability.

Counting the cost

The saying ‘’no country is an island’’ also applies to our current plight. The recent tragedies in 2018 have impacted, either indirect or direct, the economic performance of the Philippines.

Last September, about Php33.9 billion worth of infrastructure was destroyed along with immense losses in the agriculture sector, which incurred the most decimation as the result of Super Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong). It struck Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, including the National Capital Region (NCR), especially the hardest-hit Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) reported staggering numbers, including 402 areas flooded, 210,000 houses damaged, 730,596 families displaced, and 171,932 farmers directly affected in CAR alone.

In assessing Ompong’s impact on the government’s poverty-reduction goalSocioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said, ‘’Inflation, of course, and the destruction brought by the typhoon are going to be temporary or transient gusts of winds that would slow the progress of poverty reduction, but these are temporary.’’

December deluge turned deadly

Another storm gathered just before 2018 ended and swept through the Bicol Region. Tropical Depression 35W (USMAN) appeared innocuous but history has always taught us that December storms are particularly more dangerous if not deadly.

Based on information from NDRRMC, the ‘Usman’ directly or indirectly resulted to the loss of 126 lives, mostly in Bicol, with 26 more missing and 75 injured. The total damage was placed at Php4.2 billion – Php948 million in either infrastructure damage or total destruction and Php3.3 billion of crops decimated by flash floods. Many travelers were also held up by the storm, and the combined effects of the northeast monsoon’s (amihan) cold surge. 

Being an archipelago that is subject to vagaries in weather, we should all be ready not just with our rain gear but with the mindset to become better prepared for possible sudden changes. This will enable us to maximize knowledge and, moving forward, building a #WeatherWiser nation we all aim to achieve.

Interested about becoming #WeatherWiser? Email us at weatherwiser@weatherph.org.