The Philippines, as always have been a haven for investors with its astounding market rebound performance for years and going. Its tourism potential is huge, and the overseas remittances ranks as the foremost enabler of the economy for decades – we all know that, but the reiteration of its seemingly endless bountiful gifts such rests on its vast natural resource, let alone the fact that its skilled populace has always been the driving force of its economic viability in the region.
The rustic 36,289 km shoreline that stretches from across Batanes to the North, Samar to the East, Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in Palawan to the West, and the seemingly desolate and rather untouched regions in Sulu archipelago are undoubtedly inviting for investment, and this has a huge untapped potential that promises a spur economic growth in the decades ahead.
A robust economy has many facets of challenges, not to mention the increasingly competitive Asian neighbors that continue to grow and innovate. The Philippines has a vibrant economy in today’s day and age, but the challenges it faces takes a toll to its economic fundamentals. Economic reforms have been introduced to reinforce its slate for continued growth. This somewhat insulate itself from the effects of market hostilities from abroad and the seemingly endless reign of natural disasters it incurs every year.
Over the years, Tropical Cyclones vulnerability places the Philippines on the global map. The country accosts to about 9 to 10 named storms that make a direct hit anywhere from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. According to a United Nations (UN) report in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013, the country was referred to as the most vulnerable to natural disasters – with a lot of its population living along the immediate coastlines, increasing the vulnerability levels to the highest.
In 2018 alone, there had been 10 significant storm-induced crisis that have left many communities grappling for much-needed assistance in the light of a sea destruction and humanitarian-challenges. This, in the tune of hundreds of billions of pesos for rehabilitation and disaster-resilient efforts to mitigate the harsh and the increasingly wicked weather pattern over time. Overall, if not mitigated, this would translate to huge losses in several industries that keeps hurting the country’s economic viability.
Counting the cost
‘’No country is an island,’’ as the saying goes, this too, applies to our current plight. The recent tragedies in 2018, have indirectly or directly impacted the economic performance of the Philippines. In September alone, about Php33.9 bn worth of infrastructure was destroyed, coupled with immense losses in the agriculture sector, which incurred the most decimation as the result of Super Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong) when it struck Regions I, II, III, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, including the National Capital Region (NCR), especially the hardest-hit Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) on the 15th of September 2018. It flooded 402 areas, damaged 210,000 houses (14,795 totally destroyed, and 195,705 partially damaged). These staggering numbers of flattened dwellings has displaced 730,596 families or 3,029,062 individuals, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) SitRep No. 57 issued in October 06, 2018. About 171,932 farmers were directly affected in CAR alone. The massive Typhoon has left 82 dead, with 138 injured and 2 left missing according to the official report of the agency.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, in a press conference during the assessment of Super Typhoon “Mangkhut’’ Ompong’s impact on the government’s poverty-reduction goal issued a statement that, ‘’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
A year ender storm gathered just before 2018 ends. This was another tragedy that swept through the Bicol Region. On the 25th of December 2018, a weak circulation persisted near the Philippine Sea, and later on labeled as 35W. Tropical Depression 35W (USMAN) appeared seemingly innocuous storm, but history has always taught us that December storms have a punch, if not precariously dangerous or deadly. Using the latest information from the NDRRMC, the storm has directly or indirectly resulted to the loss of 126 people, mostly in the Bicol Region, with 26 more missing and 75 injured. The total damage was placed at Php4.2 bn, where Php948 mn worth of infrastructures were damaged or totally destroyed, and Php3.3 bn of crops decimated by the ensuing flashfloods, which affected 986 Barangays, displacing 152,256 families or 1,682,315 individuals in CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Region V, and VIII. Many travelers were also impacted by the holdup in the duration of the storm, and the combined effects of the cold surge of the Northeast Monsoon (Amihan). The disruption was on a national scale, and to this day, the numbers are yet to be ascertained.
Being an archipelagic region known for having vagaries in weather, there could be drastic changes in the Philippines as the new season begins. With this, we should all be ready not just with our rain gear, but with the mindset that now is the time to be more wary of possible sudden changes in the weather. This will enable us to maximize knowledge and moving forward, building a #WeatherWiser nation we all aim to achieve.
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–By Adonis S. Manzan
Typhoon Specialist, WeatherPhilippines Foundation, Inc.
09 January 2019