Do Filipinos need a Department of Disaster Resilience?

On September 21, 2020, the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act. But, do Filipinos really need such a law?

As published in the 2019 World Risk Index Report, the Philippines is classified as a “very high risk” country for garnering a score of 20.69. This makes the country 9th of the 180 countries in terms of disaster risk. The Report defines risk as “the interaction of hazard and vulnerability, in other words, the interaction of exposure to extreme natural events and the vulnerability of societies”. The concept is based not only on “the occurrence, intensity and duration of extreme natural events, but (also on) social factors, political conditions and economic structures” that are present in a particular country that can mitigate or aggravate said natural events. 

Indeed, the country has a very high exposure to disasters yet with very low coping and adaptive capacities. Coping capacities are computed based on the scores of the government and authorities on Corruption Perception Index and Fragile States Index, and the presence of medical services and material coverage. Adaptive capacities, meanwhile, are measured based on the population’s education, gender equality, environmental status/ecosystem protection, and investments on health expenditures and life expectancy.

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