Archive for the 'Other News Outlet' Category

October 14, 2009

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

DAGUPAN CITY—Faced with the enormous task of having to pump out floodwaters and rebuild roads and bridges, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has formed a body to do a postmortem on Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” and seek aid to rehabilitate the country.

The Special National Public-Private Sector Reconstruction Commission will also undertake a rehabilitation plan for wrecked infrastructure, Ms Arroyo said.

“This is going to be chaired by a business leader and Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) has agreed to chair this commission,” she said at a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and the Cabinet at the Dagupan West Central School.

The commission will be co-chaired by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the President said.

Ms Arroyo announced that she had signed an executive order creating the commission to undertake a study of the causes, costs and actions needed to be taken in the wake of Ondoy, Pepeng and last year’s Typhoon “Frank.”

The commission’s other main task is to seek fresh aid to fund the reconstruction of roads, bridges and expressways damaged by flooding and landslides, she said.

“We want to raise more grants rather than more loans because we still don’t have a good debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio,” she said.

Close to P30 billion

After Ondoy dumped rain that inundated Metro Manila and nearby provinces, Pepeng (international codename: Parma), which first entered the country as a typhoon and exited after making landfall for the third time as a depression, pummeled northern Luzon, triggering massive flooding and landslides.

The two weather disturbances left more than 600 people dead, and damage to infrastructure and agriculture estimated at close to P30 billion, according to the Office of Civil Defense.

The government has come under a storm of criticism over its slow and inadequate response to Ondoy, and has been asked to do a postmortem on the shortcomings of its rescue operations.

Pledging session

The commission is also tasked with prioritizing programs and their implementation, serving as a clearing house for international assistance, and requesting the United Nations and the World Bank to coordinate an international pledging session, according to Ms Arroyo.

The National Economic and Development Authority and Office of Civil Defense will serve as its secretariat, she added.

Salceda proposal

It was Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, an economic adviser to Ms Arroyo, who proposed the creation of the commission.

“Given the impact of the global crisis on our fiscal capacity versus the magnitude of calamity impact, the Philippines should seek fresh aid amounting to $1 billion to fund reconstruction,” Salceda said.

He said the special commission would operate like the Coordinating Council for the Philippine Assistance Plan (CCPAP) first headed by businessman Roberto Villanueva of AG&P Inc.

The CCPAP has since evolved into the Coordinating Council for Private Sector Participation, which operates the Build Operate Transfer Center under the Department of Trade and Industry.

Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto B. Santos agreed that the government should consult with urban planners, and “enforce their advice so that the spillways of Metro Manila and other cities are protected from clogging.”

Exemption from election ban

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Teves, for his part, asked the Department of Justice if it were possible to exempt foreign aid meant for rehabilitation projects from the election ban so as to accelerate the completion of the projects.

“Can we kindly check with (Justice Secretary) Agnes Devanadera in the law whether we can allow the fund we receive from the donor community to fund rehabilitation to be exempted from the election ban?” he said at the meeting.

Teves later told reporters that if there was a legal basis for the exemption, at least “we can anticipate if these questions are raised by the potential donors. If not, we can go through the normal process.”

Draining floodwaters

After relief and rehabilitation operations, the next tough task for the government would be draining the weeks-long floodwaters in some areas in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna and other provinces.

“How do we drain all the floods not only in the NCR (National Capital Region) but also in Region 1?” the President asked at the meeting. “I don’t know what’s the solution to the Laguna Lake. It has been drained but the water is still there.”

Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. reported that a dike along the Manggahan Floodway, measuring 120 meters long and 5 meters high, had been completed despite an initial opposition from 14 families of informal settlers.

Informal settlers living along the waterway have been blamed for its clogging. The waterway drains into the Laguna Lake.

1977 master plan

Ms Arroyo then recalled that architect Felino “Jun” Palafox had mentioned the 1977 master plan for the metropolis.

“Jun Palafox raised to us that during Marcos’ time there was a master plan for the NCR in 1977. Let’s look at it, and start from there,” she said, stressing that the architect would be invited as a speaker at the next meeting.

Ms Arroyo told Chair Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority that she was counting on him to drain the floodwaters in the metropolis. With a report from Rey M. Nasol, Inquirer Southern Luzon

LLDA recommends ‘forced relocation’ of 100,000 lakeshore residents

Author: Web Mod
October 6, 2009
read comments (0)

By Katherine Evangelista
First Posted 17:21:00 10/02/2009

Filed Under: Ondoy, Weather, Disasters (general), Flood

MANILA, Philippines—The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) on Friday recommended the “forced relocation” of some 100,000 people living around the still rain-bloated Laguna de Bay.

In a press briefing, LLDA General Manager Ed Manda said residents in wetland areas of Taytay, Cainta, Pasig, Taguig and Muntinlupa must be relocated before typhoon Pepeng (international codename: Parma) hits land.

Many low-lying areas around the 94-square-kilometer lake remain under water after tropical storm Ondoy (international codename: Ketsana) dumped unusually high amounts of rainfall over the weekend.

Manda said the current water level of Laguna Lake has reached 14 to 14.5 meters above the lakebed.

“It will take at least three months for the flood waters in these areas to subside,” he said.

This water level was last recorded in 1919 and if Pepeng brings even half the amount of rainfall Ondoy brought, this record would be broken, Manda said.

“The 100 year cycle has been shortened because of climate change,” Manda said.

His warning came as millions of Filipinos were struggling to recover from Ondoy, which killed at least 293 people as it pounded Metro Manila and surrounding areas with the worst flooding in four decades.

More than three million people were affected by Ondoy, which dumped more than a month’s worth of rains in just nine hours on Saturday.

Pepeng, packing maximum winds of 195 kilometers per hour and gusts of 230 kilometers per hour, was approaching the northern Philippine province of Aurora and its effects could be felt by dawn Saturday.

Manda also noted that illegal settlers have set up shanties blocking the waterways leading to Laguna Lake. This, he said, causes floodwaters to be trapped in Cainta and Pasig.

Manda said flooding in Metro Manila, and in the Rizal towns of Taytay and Cainta triggered is a warning that now is the “proper time” to implement forced relocation.

Admitting that the LLDA is a “toothless tiger,” Manda said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. has committed the military and will ask the Metro Manila Development Authority to implement the forced relocation of residents in those areas.

He added that Vice President Noli De Castro of the National Housing Development was eyeing a property in San Miguel, Bulacan as a possible permanent relocation site for those who would be transferred.

In the meantime, Manda advised residents still living in these areas to immediately evacuate.

“Save whatever you can, save your lives, save whatever properties you can and go to evacuation centers,” Manda said.

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Hi guys,

Philippine government is underestimating the impact of typhoon Ketsana (locally known as typhoon Ondoy). The government estimated the cost of damage at P8.3 billion as of 4 October 11pm.

A. So what’s the story?

Economic cost should include not only the nominal, direct effects but also indirect losses, system losses (e.g. linkages), foregone revenues and opportunity costs. Not to mention the social impact.

I did a bit of calculations using official reports from NDCC, DepED, DA and statistical reports from various govt agencies and here’s my initial assessment. (Of course, the figures will go higher as official data unravels).

Total economic cost: no less than P14.9 billion (this does not include the losses incurred by the business sector. I am still waiting for the Phil Chamber of Commerce report). The breakdown:
1. Agri and Fisheries: P8.6 billion
2. Transportation: P3.1 billion (this includes the foregone revenues of civil aviation (passengers) at P358 million
3. Housing: P2.5 billion
4. Government sector (including educ infra and assistance): P284 million
5. Access Cost of Students (who were effectively displaced from their schools. these schools were converted into evacuation centers): P88 million. This could go up to P140 million.
6. Foregone revenues of the dead, present value: P290 million

In addition, no less than P1.06 billion YEARLY forgone revenues in agriculture for agri lands that are considered ‘no chance of recovery’.

These estimates are conservative and does not include other things: (i) destruction of durables and non-durable household items, foregone revenues of business establishments, actual damage in assets of business establishments, unaccounted donations, sea transport, actual medical expenses of the injured and future health/medical expenses to curb water-borne diseases, among others.

B. How about the response?

On average, there are 628 persons in one evacuation center. These individuals are those actually served/housed in evacuation centers. Some of these evacuation centers are public schools. But, if we take all of the individuals affected by Ondoy, the ratio is 7,571 persons in one evacuation center. That would be a multiple of 12 evacuation centers given the current average population of an evacuation center in the field. The figures, of course, varies by region. Central Luzon has 14,070 persons in one evacuation center while only 661 persons are actually housed in the center.

C. What about government assistance?

The total amount of government assistance (including those given by NGOs) is valued at P80.02 million (of which, P64.6 million constitutes as direct government assistance and P15.38 million is the assessed value of sacks of rice). Total number of affected individuals, to date: 3,899, 307. This translates to P20.52 per person. What can this buy? Well, one (1) kilo of NHA rice is P18.25 and maybe two (2) ice water at one peso each. But with looming uncertainties faced by those affected on how to go on with their daily lives, P20.52 is absolutely not sustaining.

But not all 3,899,307 people are actually served by the government. The government has actually served only 982,408, again, to date. This means: each served individual has received P81.45 pesos. That’s the value of social protection programme per person, for this type of catastrophic risk. And, that value, I am sure, will increase each day hence as support pours in. If we compare that, however, with properties and lives destroyed, well…..

D. So where do the rest of the affected get help from?

From kins, friends and social networks including Gabriela Women’s Party, the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, ABS-CBN Foundation-Gawad Kapamilya, Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana), a Gabriela member organization, GMA Kapuso Foundation, DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, Art Gabon and other people and groups. They are proofs that support can come from what economists and sociologists call ‘informal arrangements’ (as opposed to ‘formal arrangements’ by the government and from international support). At times, catastrophic events like that havocked by Ondoy can wipe out a whole host of insurable material assets and the only asset left is friends, relatives and social networks. They act as social insurance which allows individuals to even out consumption during hard times. They are extremely valuable.

That’s all for now.


Article from The REAL cost of Ondoy (according to an economist)


By Ishaan Tharoor

In Manila, millions of residents now live in a world of mud. Torrential rain over the weekend triggered the worst flooding the Philippines’ capital has seen in over four decades, submerging more than 80% of the city, killing at least 246 people and displacing hundreds of thousands more. By Tuesday, the water had receded in many places, but it left behind ruined homes and swept-away neighborhoods, and according to health officials, it disabled the majority of Manila’s medical facilities. Debris, sewage and abandoned vehicles that were tossed around by gushing currents now litter the notoriously polluted capital; aid workers warn of water-borne diseases. The government has placed the area around Manila under a “state of public calamity.”

In an appeal for assistance, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo described Tropical Storm Ketsana, which hit Manila on Sept. 26, as a “once-in-a-lifetime typhoon.” A month’s worth of rain deluged the city in the space of 12 hours. “The system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed,” said Anthony Golez of the state’s National Disaster Coordinating Council at a press conference on Sept. 28. (See pictures of the storm.)

Yet many in the country are pointing fingers at its politicians for failing to predict the scale of the disaster or lessen the damage it caused. Manila, they say, was always bound to face such catastrophe, and more should have been done to help its millions of residents prepare. A recently published study by the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSA), a research group based in Singapore, ranked metropolitan Manila as one of the provinces in Southeast Asia most vulnerable to flooding. The capital region is perched on a marshy isthmus that is crisscrossed with streams and rivers. An ever-growing population — Manila is now a sprawling mega-city of some 12 million people, larger still when factoring in the day-worker population — and the lack of infrastructure to accommodate it left swaths of the city exposed. “What we are seeing is a phenomenon that will affect many major cities in Asia,” says Neeraj Jain, country specialist for the Philippines at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is headquartered in Manila. “Urbanization has been so rapid, yet the planning processes have lagged.” (Read “Manila Through the Eyes of F. Sionil José.”)

Last weekend’s flood was in large part the result of the capital’s poor drainage and sanitation systems, which have been neglected by several successive administrations in power. As Ketsana rained down upon Manila, sewers that were clogged up by plastic bags and other refuse led to roads becoming rivers and gardens lagoons. Video images of desperate people riding floating pontoons of garbage down inundated streets were a sign not just of the consequences of the flood, but also its causes. Many impoverished Manila residents live in makeshift settlements by rivers and creeks — the source of their drinking water — that overflowed and carried off their homes. “People have always been living on the edge,” says Carlos Celdran, a popular Manila historian and performing artist. “It’s amazing the city has actually managed to make it this far.”

The Spanish seized Manila from its Muslim rulers in the 16th century and set it up as their colonial seat in Asia. The city was a flourishing, elegant entrepôt for centuries, but in recent times civic planning has been more haphazard as the population has boomed. Lambert Ramirez, executive director of the National Institute for Policy Studies, a Manila-based think tank, says much of the blame for poor urban management ought to be leveled at the government. “There’s no coordinated policy for cleaning up garbage. There’s no political will to get even simple things done,” he says. Ramirez spoke to TIME while salvaging appliances and valuables from his own flooded home. (See pictures of the recent floods in Georgia.)

Jain of the ADB says the leadership in Manila, faced with elections in the coming months, is indeed thinking of long-term solutions to its infrastructure woes. Plans have been afoot to improve sanitation and also relieve the population burden in metro Manila by shifting certain businesses and government offices to areas outside the dense capital region. But the challenge facing the Philippines and other poor Asian countries is one of resources. Most Southeast Asia nations budget around 2% or 3% of their GDP for infrastructure development. To fend off such disasters in the future, Jain says that figure ought to be closer to 5% or 6%. It’s a deficit that few governments can afford to make up overnight.

But given the looming specter of climate change, they may have to find a way sooner rather than later. The prospect of another typhoon this week underscores environmentalists’ concern that shifts in global temperatures may mean increasingly extreme weather patterns for coastal cities like Manila. “[Ketsana] was a startling, unique event,” says Herminia Francisco of the EEPSA in Singapore. “But then I think this is going to happen more and more frequently in the future.” (See a TIME graphic on destructive weather.)

For today, as international aid pours in from organizations like the Red Cross and the World Food Program, Manila residents are slowly retrieving their homes and livelihoods from the mud. Thousands of volunteers have donated food and rushed to help those who were worse affected. “Filipinos are used to crisis,” says Celdran. “We’ve gone through a lot over the years, but we’ve managed. We’re a resilient people.”

By David Montero | Correspondent 09.29.09

Leaving behind a path of destruction and 240 dead and climbing in the Philippines, hurricane Ketsana has now become a full-scale typhoon as it barrels down on central Vietnam, raising fears of another catastrophic downpour.

The storm is stronger now than when it ripped through the Philippines, with winds of more than 100 miles per hour. The eye of the storm, with even stronger winds of 126 miles per hour, was expected to touch down at 1 p.m. local time in Vietnam.

But authorities there appeared ready, with 100,000 people from flood prone villages already evacuated, and residents in Central Vietnam advised to stockpile food, water, and medicine. Vietnam is hoping to avoid the calamity that caught the Philippines largely off guard.

Vietnam was hard hit by heavy rains and floods just last week, which left as many as 23 people dead and nearly 10,000 houses destroyed in north-central provinces of the country. This time, the government has deployed hundreds of military personnel to move people out of the path of the storm, and also ordered ships safely harbored and schools closed, and canceled all flights to the tourist cites of Hue and Danang.

Of particular concern for authorities is the fate of rice and other food. The storms last week submerged 2,400 hectares of rice and 5,900 hectares of farm produce, reports Vietnam’s Thanh Nien newspaper.

So the government has issued a warning that “farmers have been prompted to harvest rice quickly to avoid crop losses.”

Ketsana’s destruction could just be beginning. Even as rescue operations continued in the Philippines, where the death toll has risen to at least 240, authorities in Laos and Thailand were warning that they could be next in Ketsana’s path. China’s Xinhua news service reports:

Thailand’s Meteorological Department on Tuesday warned residents in 18 provinces of heavy rains and flash floods as tropical storm Ketsana is expected to reach the country’s northeast region Wednesday.

In the Philippines, which is barely getting back on its feet after Saturday’s deluge, rain-soaked cities and shaken residents were preparing for an awful prospect: another violent storm.

Weather forecasters are tracking a storm off the eastern coast of the Philippines, and expect it to touch land on Thursday. They say the storm could become a typhoon as well.

The impact of a typhoon could cause severe damage, not only physically but also politically. As the military scrambles to deliver more aid to surviving residents, many are fuming that the government was caught off guard by the first storm. A second could foment more backlash against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is already dogged by accusations of corruption and poll fraud, reports

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