Why is the Philippines unprepared for natural disasters and climate change? Ask Mar Roxas

The Philippines is said to be leading an initiative with other countries that claim to be highly-prone to the adverse effects of the phenomenon referred to as climate change. The coalition calling themselves the “Vulnerable Twenty” (V20) and who are unashamed to admit they “lack resources to combat the adverse effects of climate change” will attempt to ask for financial assistance from industrialized countries and development institutions. Included in the group are least developed, low-income, and middle-income countries and the group’s agenda is to “formally adopt the V20 Action Plan outlining a concerted response to strengthening resilience and mitigating the debilitating impacts of climate change.”

Storms like 2013's Typhoon Haiyan will continue to be unnecessarily disastrous as long as Filipinos fail to prepare.

Storms like 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan will continue to be unnecessarily disastrous as long as Filipinos fail to prepare.

While the move is commendable because it highlights the world’s over-reliance on fossil fuels, I find the Philippines’ lack of focus on developing its own renewable sources of energy a bit hypocritical. What I’m trying to say is, the Philippines’ use of oil, gas and coal to address its own growing energy demand also contributes to the release of carbon dioxide (C02) in the air, which contributes to the thickening of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which causes what they call the greenhouse effect which some scientist blame for climate change. With over 100 million Filipinos, the country’s use of fossil fuels to light up each additional household can only go up.

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Likewise, the country’s almost non-existent disaster preparedness planning will make the Philippines’ case for asking for financial assistance in combating the adverse effects of climate change very difficult.

A recent report conducted by the Commission on Audit from 2013 exposed that under the leadership of former Department Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, 65.5 percent of the Philippines’ disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) funds were not used for its intended purpose at all:

…the Commission on Audit (COA) 2013 report which came out only this year had noted that only 34.5 percent or P33,071,955.88 of the P76-million fund allocation for the DRRM activities of the DILG was utilized.

Just to highlight some points in that Interaksyon article cited above, Roxas’s department failed to do the following despite the budget allocated for it:

(1) The DILG, through its Bureau of Local Government Development, failed to purchase search and rescue equipment despite a P20-million fund allotment.

(2) Office of Project Development Service (OPDS) failed to conduct training for barangay project development, which has a P600,000.00 budget.

(3) DILG also did not conduct training on the formulation of the Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP) when a whopping P6 million was allotted for this.

Given that the national budget allotted for disaster preparedness to mitigate the impact of regular cyclones that visit the Philippines every year does not get utilized, how can the delegates from the Vulnerable Twenty expect the international community to take us seriously? Even before countries like China, India or the US consider giving compensation, they have to admit they are doing something wrong. The chances of that happening is very small considering developing countries like the Philippines do not prepare enough for the natural disasters that hit them on an annual basis.

The problem with the Philippines is that projects with good intentions are hardly ever implemented. There is a general lack of follow-through on promises to fix things before the next disaster strikes. The former head of DILG Mar Roxas, for example, has been more focused on campaigning for the next Presidential election than preparing for the next disaster. It was the Commission on Audit that concluded that the “DILG failed to implement planned activities due to lack of coordination and monitoring activities”. The findings should actually serve as strong evidence in a case against Roxas for negligence that holds him liable for the resulting deaths due to disasters during his term.

Mar Roxas may have been too busy in his other job to properly prepare for disasters.

Mar Roxas may have been too busy in his other job to properly prepare for disasters.

We can already predict that any action plan that will be discussed in the summit with delegates from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will likely end up on the drawing board even if the Liberal Party to which Roxas belongs to wins the 2016 election. Any expert in disaster management can list a number of “action plans” to lessen the impact of the effects of climate change or the average typhoon that passes through the Philippines but if the people in charge do not bother to implement them, they will be useless.

Besides, Filipinos who live in danger zones are too stubborn to get out of harm’s way even when experience has given them the wisdom to know to move out before the next typhoon arrives.

Such is the sad fate of Filipinos in the Philippines and I don’t think the international community can help us — unless of course they are given the green light to implement the action plan for Filipinos. It is high time professionals take over management of the country’s disaster preparation and response capability.

27 Replies to “Why is the Philippines unprepared for natural disasters and climate change? Ask Mar Roxas”

  1. Mar Roxas cannot even formulate a program, for disaster preparedness. How can he solve the pressing problems of the Philippines. Roxas cannot even manage a disaster relief , like Typhoon Yolanda relief efforts.

    He is there driving a pedicab. Maybe, he is only good in photo opportunities; like: carrying bags of onions, directing traffics, driving pedicabs, etc…

    I see Mar Roxas, as: incompetent, irresponsible, immature, cannot handle his job, cannot manage anything, etc…instead Mar Roxas, is always playing politics and gallivanting. The Dude cannot work responsibly, in his job, like Aquino.

    Where did the funds allocated to disaster preparedness went? To Mar Roxas and Aquino’s pockets, maybe.

    People who are born rich are like that; especially in the Philippines. Where they do not strive. Everything was handed to them in “silver platter”. Retinue of servants cater to their needs.

    And, he is telling us: he can serve us? What a liar…

  2. we always point out these politicians as liars but they are still in power and candidate for a presidency..they are rich and we are poor..they dont give a fuck about what we say..they have money and money is power

  3. My god why are blaming Mar Roxas alone .. It’s been like that in the Philippines who ever is in power . Where the money went ??? Ask them that and don’t atop till you have the answere and trace where the money went … demand the answere and don’t stop till they show the audit report ..geese Harapan pinagloloko Kayo .., ano ang ginagaqa ninyo….,: walalalala. Waaaaaaa lang ng waaaaaaaaa..

    1. You have a comprehension problem. Where in the article was Bong Bong mentioned? A lot of people advocate for development of renewable energy, not just Bong Bong. Just because I mentioned “renewable energy”, doesn’t mean I am pro-Bong Bong. Only an irrational person like you would conclude that.

      You are a vindictive person and don’t really care if the article has a valid point about Mar’s neglect during his time in DILG.

      Your loyalty seems to lie on the Liberal Party and not the country.

  4. Noynoy and his Administration is more worse than the Yolanda Disaster. So it’s a given that he and his people will never be prepared for any disaster at all since they are Disaster themselves. Poor Filipinos whom they fooled by their Propaganda coz they themselves are Disaster also.

    It’s not only Government, even the Private Sector is also not serious on Preparation, Disaster Risk Reduction (mitigate) and Climate Change Adaptation.

    PROOF no.1:

    I’m a Building Architect/Engineer in a Japanese Petrochemical (Oil &Gas) Engineering company –doing projects with high level of strength, quality, safety standards and precautionary measures (Safe Haven & Cyclone/Blast resistant Building).

    In 2009, me & my family almost died during Typhoon Ondoy (note: no prior warning issued by PAGASA & Arroyo). In my efforts to rescue my wife & kids (all were safe on a small boat w/ a rescuer), I was left behind so tired/cold to swim and hanging on tree branch (grasping w/ arms & legs). In the face my death, I prayed intensely for my life and made a promise to God that I will be involve/help solve our problems on natural calamities and share my knowledge on coping w/ Hazards brought about by Climate Change. God granted me 2nd life and I so kept my promise to Him and now made it my Advocacy “A Better & Safer Philippines”, equipped with my current work specialization & years of experience living in Japan,

    In 2010, I joined a Global Design Competition about a housing project that is well adapted for Climate Change (by Mr. Ilac Diaz) entitled “Design Against the Elements (Water or flooding, Wind or typhoons, Earth or quakes, & Fire)”.

    Professional entry fee of P1300 approx.

    Modesty aside my entry (no.135) was favorite during Quezon City Hall Exhibit and it was displayed first in front row facing directly the exhibit entrance. Honestly, I also studied other entries in the competition so I was pretty confident in winning and I was very excited to help our people & government by sharing my views, experience and ideas about Climate Change adaptation.
    A week prior to announcement of winners I was interviewed (recorded on video) by National Geography Philippines @UAP headquarter. One of the questions was ” If you win, what will you do with the Prize money”. I did not directly answer “give to charity” and only said “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.

    On the day of announcement of winners @SMC office, I was again interviewed (recorded on video) by TJ Manotoc @ my office in Wack-wack. One of his questions was “Why did I join this competition?” and so I said again “I only want to share my knowledge & ideas about Climate Change adaptation”.

    To my surprise, my entry was not included in the winners and all 5 Final entries was done by foreigners. In my frustrations I immediately called Mr. Ilac Diaz to express my disappointment & questioned the results. I told him that cost factor only constitute 15% of judging criteria when I easily get 85% in others factors. Also, competition is not about Low Cost Housing.

    I eventually understood that this Design Competition – although global did not generate interest & funds because very few joined (approx. 150 entries) with very few sponsor/support from private sector & new government (Pres. Aquino). I only wish they had approached me directly about waving or giving the Prize money to charity. Hence, my efforts and motivation in joining was not entirely fulfilled because without the win I cannot prove or convince people. And people may not interpret my Vision correctly.

    And every year (last 3-5 yrs), I always feel sad about news of disaster/calamities in our country and how our people are dying or suffering and how our government is struggling to cope with the situation.

    2011- SENDONG
    2012- PABLO
    2013- YOLANDA
    2014- GLENDA
    2015- ? (el nino)

    PROOF no.2:

    In 2013-2014 after YOLANDA

    With all due respect to organizer OML (Oscar M. Lopez) of so called “Experts Forum”.

    Invitation was limited to EXPERTS only (where is humility?) and so I asked who decides who is Expert & who is not? Titles/academic credentials (PhD) nor authority/position without actual practice or experiencing or applying the Theories is nothing.

    Despite of my years of experience in safe haven or disaster resilient buildings:

    I literally gate crush or begged to enter in “An Experts Forum on Rebuilding Communities and Ecosystems after Yolanda” held last January 23 @ AIM Conference Center in Makati

    I was eager to participate but due to no invitation so eventually I was limited only to listen & observe. Honestly, I was expecting to learn from the Experts but was in fact a disappointment except for Mr. Joseph D’Cruz (notice no title is attached on his name) the regional environment advisor at the UNDP Asia-Pacific. 

    I hope OML release the video recording of this Experts forum to the public so everyone can relate to my comments below:

    1. Three resource persons are Deans from UP college of Engineering, urban & regional planning and marine science institute.

    Dean from College of Engineering w/ respect to his position & doctorate degrees (PhD)- is basically a non-practicing Professional w/c have limited experience in actual design or project execution. Presentation done was purely theories lacking factual, tested, proven, actual formula and design solution against YOLANDA.

    In academe, a PhD with a professor’s or dean’s appointment should be addressed as “professor” or “Dean” coz it’s more appropriate form of address and recognizes his/her expertise only in teaching or academe and not in actual professional practice.

    2. A group of Filipino scientist? was again insisting that Bamboo is a strong material against YOLANDA. Common sense – bamboo is considered a lite material for aesthetic only. 

    3. I was again not impress w/ Ar. Palafox due to none technical presentation about policies for DRR (disaster risk reduction) & CCA (climate change adaptation). 

    I don’t understand why our media always put him on news. He is always seen together w/ Sen. Lacson, yet he allowed our government to provide poor bunk house design. In pass 3-4 years, our people still die/suffer and our government still struggle to cope w/ Climate Change.

    So why is too much attention given to you by media? What have you actually done than pose on camera? Victims of Yolanda deserve better output/performance from you.

    4. Dr. Wesenbeek who specialized ecosystem assessment & ecological data analysis, focused on coastal and wetland ecosystems applied in Netherlands. But it cannot be applicable in the Philippines as a tropical country compare to cold condition in Netherlands.

    Again, she is only affiliated in applied research institute in the field of water, soil & infrastructure but not In actual professional practice. Research is as important to society as practicing other professions are, but direct application of theories and actual experience in engineering is more vital to DRR & CCA.


    is a vital/key component in coping with these problems.

    Links below is my Study and Suggestions (5yrs. ago) for Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness and Flooding which our President (Noynoy Aquino) & Government ignored or simply did not care understand.
    But after experiencing numerous disaster every year with increasing no. of death/casualties & damages (Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda) – recently our Government (MMDA, NDRRC, Dinky Soliman DSWD & Napoleon Nazareno NTC) is now slowly implementing and copying my no.1 recommendation in my presentation:


    To avoid PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS – it is necessary to convey messages or instructions BEFORE, DURING & AFTER any disaster. It is also vital to receive/transmit informations & news in the community in times of crisis. And to warn occupants of impending danger.








  6. Don’t depend on circus clowns guys. Just take matters into your own hands…

    How to build an earthquake proof and typhoon proof house | Pinoy How To

  7. The first thing that caught my eye in this article was the quote from the COA report.33m php is 43% of 76m php not 34.5%.If they cannot get that right, what trust can anybody have in the rest of the report? With regard to unspent allocations,if you have no disaster relief plan,how do you know what equipment you need?May it be better not to spend money on the wrong equipment?

    In the overall scheme of things,if the Philippines stopped emitting any pollution tomorrow,would it register globally at all? Local Climate Change Action Plans sounds like a nice little backhander to the locals.

    Plans to mitigate the results of disasters and aid recovery would seem a better use of the money.I wonder what levels of earthquake or dynamic stress from high winds are these new multi-storey buildings designed AND BUILT to withstand?Not having these reduced to heaps of rubble after a disaster would make relief much easier.

    3 things off the top of my head that would either alleviate the effects of disasters,improve the economy or reduce pollution.These are Manila centred,as this is my main experience,but hey,isn’t everything in the Philippines?

    1 Clear out the rivers through Manila.Not just the rubbish dumped into them,but dredge them.Rivers naturally deposit silt,which reduces the ability to move water.

    2 Sort out traffic.How much pollution is produced by {imported} fuel burnt by vehicles sitting in traffic?

    3 Renewable energy.Philippines is a prime candidate for solar energy.I believe that the cost of solar panels has fallen dramatically in the past 5 years,which,coupled with the high price of carbon fuelled energy,ought to be cost-effective.Not only would this reduce the amount of electricity being taken from the system,but has the capability for excess to be inserted back.This reduces import cost,pollution and maybe even stabilises overall supply.

    How about this as part of an election manifesto?

    Election manifesto?? What’s that??

    1. @Niall R

      Excellent recommendations. Filipinos can’t even use the water from the rivers when the effects of El Nino is in full force. Hardly anyone is worried about alternative sources of water when the country is experiencing drought. People are in denial this will happen. Lack of foresight is evident yet again. You are correct about the pollution from the traffic gridlock. I wrote about that in my previous article.

      Sadly, the idea of harnessing energy from nature is still an alien concept for a lot of people.

      Most mainstream media sites quoted the same thing from COA report. Maybe it’s a typo. 😉

  8. It looks like an initiative to swindle the international community — don’t they realize their reputation is that of a garbage after Haiyan/ Yolanda?

    I read somewhere that Obama is not releasing anymore any money related to the Philippines as those with MDG Funds, military assistance, etc. because of reports of ingeniousness in corruption. That is the word I saw: ingeniousness in corruption. Gosh, nakakahiya eto si PNoy.

    Huwag na lang sila humarap sa international community at laughingstock lang sila sa totoo lang. Blind talaga, this administration, and that is what they get for being obsessively corrupt. Or obsessive about their war chest, they have to win 2016 in the worst possible way (read Tatad’s column yesterday. Yellows are in desperado mode.)

    1. Exactly, Add! This looks like another money making scheme. They can’t even handle the local funds, what more funds from international community? The Philippine delegates might just make a fool themselves. Besides, not everyone in the industrial world is convinced that climate change is to blame for devastating weather conditions.

  9. You’re darn right the Philippines is unprepared for natural disasters and climate change. Just look at the lack of fundings for emergency response organizations to deal with catastrophes, and the number of privately-owned vehicles the government is allowing to clog up the country’s roadways. And this is the country that keeps bragging about its economy is growing and cracking down on corruption.

  10. You talk as if climate change is written in stone like the ten commandments.

    google climate + scam

    google monckton + interview or debate

    while you’re at it why not write about the other candidates? how about poe and binay? are they so perfect you can’t write anything about them? why don’t you post the senate hearings verbatim on this site so the readers can decide for themselves.

    1. Another irrational comment detected.

      Please work on your comprehension skills because you missed this part: “…which some scientist blame for climate change”

      Note that I didn’t claim it myself. And by the way, the members of the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) including the Philippines are the ones asking for monetary assistance from industrialised countries to “combat the adverse effects of climate change”. You could say that the Philippines is taking part in a scam. I won’t blame you.

      while you’re at it why not write about the other candidates? how about poe and binay? are they so perfect you can’t write anything about them?

      Why don’t you write it yourself? Who are you to dictate to me what I should do?

      My article is about the failures of DILG, which was under the leadership of Mar Roxas. Why would I include Binay and Poe in it?

      You’re not smart, are you?

    1. “Scientist” and not SCIENTISTS. You expect me to take one scientist’s word for it?

      And why don’t you send that link to the Liberal Party since Finance Secretary Purisima is the one leading the Vulnerable 20 forum in Peru?


  11. ilda your comments just show that you’re an attack dog against the administration.

    i am not dictating what you should write about but since you only write criticism about the aquino administration then you’re probably allied with the opposition.(just my opinion).

    insulting me won’t make your articles unbiased. you probably don’t like what i’m saying. hence the name-calling. maybe you can look at the mirror and use some freudian analysis.

    1. Oh look who is playing the victim card now? Tsk tsk…

      First you insinuate that I am being selective by only attacking Mar Roxas and not the other candidates; then you confirm it by saying I am “an attack dog against the administration”. Therefore my rebuttal to you is justified. You can’t expect respect when you don’t respect the person you are talking to. Why do you defend Mar anyway? Are you related to him? Your loyalty should be to the country and not the politicians.

      The article has a valid point that you refuse to acknowledge – that MAR ROXAS neglected his duties as DILG secretary. There is nothing biased about that claim because it was supported by the COA report. The other candidates were not in charge of DILG and disaster preparedness program. Understand?

      Yes, I don’t like it when you say that I am simply attacking the administration because it is a lie that you want to spread around. I am calling out your vindictiveness. I am highlighting the adminsitration’s gross negligence because I am worried about the disaster that is going to happen as a result of it. Nothing wrong with that.

      Now, unless you can rebut the claims of the COA report, then your next unfounded accusations will be deleted. I have no time for stupidity.

  12. The biggest lie going is climate change/global warming. The second biggest lie is that politicians can make your lives better. Or that could be inversed depending on where you live.

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