The National Disaster Management Program
Disaster preparedness is an essential element of the disaster management program. Disaster management plans of key agencies and organizations have been prepared, review and updated. These plans are properly documented and are regularly tested for continuing relevance.Organizations and training are continuing disaster preparedness tasks which are preformed by various disaster coordinating councils. Over the past few years, various emergencies services necessary during disaster have been developed in all the region and provinces. Designated organizations have been oriented in their various roles in the disaster management Local chief executives, particularly those elected to their posts for the first time, have been provided training on disaster management to equip them effectively lead their local disaster coordinating councils. Specialized skills in search and rescue, evacuation, disaster medicine, vulnerability analysis, damage assessment and first-aid have been widely undertaken. In 1995 alone, 159 training sessions on various aspects of disaster management have been conducted all over the country.
The Philippines conducted 103 drills were conducted in 1998 alone. Other disaster preparedness measures have also been undertaken such as disaster drills and exercises, and establishment of disaster management operations centers. Disaster management operations centers have been established with capabilities of a wide range of emergency services which include rescue, evacuation, emergency housing and relief services.
The Philippines has also devoted considerable resource to the construction and provision of disaster reduction facilities such as river dikes and sea walls, as well as non-structural measures like warning systems for typhoons, floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruption and lahar flows. Flood control projects and watershed management projects, in additions to the broader reforestation effort, are all geared to mitigate the worst effects to natural disasters.
In the event of disasters, plans and capabilities prepared beforehand are activated. The improved quality of planning, coordination and high state of preparedness have been responsible for a more and rapid and comprehensive disaster response capabilities in various areas of the country. Volunteer workers with proper training , and reaction teams with proper equipment and skills have been invaluable in the various military and civil agencies of government as well as those in the private sector. In addition, the communications and warning capabilities of the government have also been augmented by the media organizations and the corporate communication capabilities of large Philippine enterprise. Together these resources have provided which are the essential safety margins during disaster of uncertain and unexpected destructive force.
Public information before, during and after disaster is an important aspect of disaster management in the Philippines. Both through training and public education campaigns the disaster coordinating councils maintain and enhance public awareness of disaster reduction. Manuals and bulletins provided to media professionals help keep disaster preparedness in the public agenda. Special events like civil defense day, fire prevention month, disaster consciousness week, and the day for the international decade for natural disaster reduction help to mobilize civic consciousness.
Since the knowledge base of disaster management remains inadequate, the Philippines has also included research and development in disaster reduction techniques as part of its national disaster management program. Current priorities in this area include meteorological and hydrological disaster researches being conducted by the Philippine weather bureau(PAGASA) such as the tropical cyclone research on typhoon movement prediction, typhoon surface structure research, typhoon formations and intensification research and meteorological and hydrological hazards assessment. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology(PHIVOLCS) is also conducting studies on the seismicity of Luzon and Visayas island as well as the volcanic hazards of Mindanao island.
Hereunder are some of the programs/projects/activities which PAGASA and PHIVOLCS undertake related to National Disaster Reduction;
Response to Disaster by Civil Society
Disaster response in the Philippines is truly a multi-sectoral and mass-based endeavor. A major contingent to the disaster management structure is composed of civic organization, non-government organization, people's organizations, and all forms of religious and social voluntary groupings. Partly because of their democratic political experience, the high public awareness of the destructiveness of disaster, and partly because the institutional framework for disaster management has encouraged it, popular participation of the Filipino people in disaster response is very broad, sustained, enthusiastic, organized and ultimately decisive.Private organizations have filled gaps in the government response as well as augmented strained officials capacities. These include services such as medical care, search and rescue, emergency housing and feeding, and many other needs. Initiatives in resource mobilization have allowed the country to tap aid from unaffected areas to flow to affected areas. Many social institutions like Church, the schools, the media and professional associations have become channels for popular participation in disaster management.
This broad response of the civil society provided the Philippine disaster response with a depth and strength gained only from the cruel lessons of recent disasters. This may be an important silver lining to dark clouds of disaster which had the threatened the nation.
Current EffortsThe NDCC through the Office of Civil Defense has taken new directions in the field of disaster reduction. This is in accordance with the thrust of the new NDCC Chairman, Defense Secretary Orlando S.Mercade for excellence in disaster prevention and control shall implement developmental and impact programs in four major areas, namely: (1) emergency management; (2) vulnerability reduction and risk management; (3) human resource development, and (4) advocacy for civil protection. Along these framework of action that the NDCC has been pursuing program component and impact activities in partnership with the non-government organizations and the local disaster coordinating councils (LDCC's) to wit;