“The Standard”, which styles itself as “Hong Kong’s first free English newspaper” reported on the comments of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regarding the disaster profile of the Philippines. The bank said that disasters have been a major factor in the country’s continuing “poverty and vulnerability”. ADB also stated that the disaster relief programs in the Philippines are inadequate due to “poor governance.”
I think the Philippine government should dig into this issue further. Disaster preparedness should be another top priority. In my half-year stay in Hong Kong, I only noted one tropical cyclone and it was not strong enough to cause destruction on a massive scale. On the other hand, the Philippines was hit by numerous typhoons in the same period of time. The damages due to typhoon Egay alone in August 2007 were estimated to cost more than Php 20M!!!
Maybe the Philippines remains in the quagmire it is now in because we are lacking in disaster vigilance against the 20 or more typhoons that hit us every year. Maybe Hong Kong is rich because it does not have to deal with so many cyclones.
On another note, I wish the ZTE “political typhoon” would be over soon. The next president whoever he/she may be should immediately push for more effective calamity protection efforts especially for the impoverished. I also pray that the next president would not be as “typhoon-prone” as the incumbent.
The Standard: Friday, March 07, 2008
Natural and man-made disasters affect nearly one in 10 people in the Philippines every year but millions of victims are largely left to fend for themselves, the Asian Development Bank said.
“Disasters, both natural and man- made, have been a major source of poverty and vulnerability in the Philippines,” the Manila-based lender said in a country report yesterday.
Situated in the “Ring of Fire” of volcanic islands around the rim of the Pacific Ocean and in the typhoon belt, the country gets a hefty dose of typhoons, floods, waves, landslides, quakes and volcanic eruptions.
These “adversely affected an annual average of about eight million people, mostly in rural areas,” the bank said.
“Only about one-half of the affected people received assistance from the government and private relief institutions.
“Of those assisted, the value of assistance was a miniscule amount, not even representing 1 percent of the average income during `normal’ times of the poorest 30 percent of the population.”
The bank said there was a lack of funds as well as “poor targeting” caused by poor governance, leading to “significant leakages and wastage of resources.”
It said the scant aid reaching displaced populations was “a serious concern considering that disasters often inflict severe damage and loss to property and destroy the only means of livelihood for the poor.
“Failing to receive assistance, they risk falling to perpetual poverty traps.”
The bank said the Philippines gets hit every year with 20 typhoons that come with strong winds, intense rainfall and flooding.
Separately, the nation’s Senate has summoned two executives of Chinese telecoms giant ZTE Corp to testify about a corruption scandal battering President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
It is investigating a state broadband deal with ZTE, endorsed by Arroyo, that was allegedly tainted by bribery.
Arroyo, her husband Mike and the country’s former elections chief Benjamin Abalos deny wrongdoing.