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Evolving and Implementing a New Disaster Management Paradigm: The Case of the Philippines

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Disaster and Development

Part of the book series: Environmental Hazards ((ENHA))


Two years in a row the World Risk Report has ranked the Philippines third out of 173 countries in susceptibility to disasters. The country is significantly exposed to storms, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic activity, but overall risk is exacerbated by vulnerability due to under development. As in many developing countries, disaster management historically focused on response and recovery with the military and national police as central actors. But in 2010, a consortium of civil society groups, business leaders, and university experts successfully championed a new law that emphasized community-based disaster risk reduction and attempted to intervene in the root causes of vulnerability—poverty and landlessness. We illuminate recent struggles to implement the law and offer implications for disaster management theory and practice. Ultimately, for disaster risk reduction to succeed, Filipino leaders must foster democratic institutions that are as responsive to bottom-up problems as top-down interests; build cooperation across public, private, and voluntary sectors; and strengthen human development capabilities in parallel with economic development.

It has often been said that in cultural terms we were in the convent for 300 years and in Hollywood for fifty. We prayed the rosary in the morning and dreamed of Marilyn Monroe at night." Antonio Meloto, Builder of Dreams (2009), p. 64.

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  1. 1.

    While this manuscript was being completed, on November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan—known locally as Yolanda—made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage. As of January 2014 Typhoon Haiyan was reported to have caused 6,201 deaths, affected an estimated 16 million people, and destroyed or damaged more than one million homes, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land, across 44 provinces (NDRRMC 2014).

  2. 2.

    Municipalities are local government units that lack the requirements (primarily population) to become chartered as cities. Many are rural or semi-rural and are roughly equivalent to American counties. Cities and municipalities are further sub-divided into barangays, which are like villages or city districts and have their own elected officials. Criteria and rules for LGUs were established in the Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act No. 7160).

  3. 3.

    All information presented about NOAH is from Official Gazette (2012).

  4. 4.

    Sources suggested that up to 20 villagers and soldiers may have drowned when a wall of water overcame an army truck transporting them to an emergency shelter (Mangosing 2012).

  5. 5.

    In the U. S. a model encapsulating the activities of emergency management in four phases—mitigation, response, recovery, and preparedness—emerged in conjunction with President Carter’s creation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979 (Giuffrida 1985). Recognition of the four phases spread incrementally to other countries and was reflected in numerous development grants of the World Bank in the early 1980s. Moreover, creation of the United Nations Disaster Relief Office in 1971 “to promote the study, prevention, control and prediction of natural disasters” (UNISDR 2013) reveals early attention to the preventative and mitigation components of international disaster management.

  6. 6.

    See Brower and Magno (2011) for an expanded explanation of these two dynamics.

  7. 7.

    The Senator has an online infomercial promoting her ideas:


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Correspondence to Ralph S. Brower .

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Brower, R., Magno, F., Dilling, J. (2014). Evolving and Implementing a New Disaster Management Paradigm: The Case of the Philippines. In: Kapucu, N., Liou, K. (eds) Disaster and Development. Environmental Hazards. Springer, Cham.

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