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An assessment of capacities and resources of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office: Towards resiliency to disaster Abstract

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An assessment of capacities and resources of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office: Towards resiliency to disaster Abstract

Abstract

Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines are in the frontlines of disaster management. The passage of the 2010 Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) law requires LGUs to craft DRRM action plans, assemble local DRRM offices (LDRRMO), and implement programs on disaster preparedness. Given this policy development, local governments and communities need to build their capacities on disaster risk reduction and management. This research assesses the local resources, and capacity opportunities of the City of Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in developing disaster preparedness programs and activities. It evaluates practices in local disaster preparedness, gaps in the implementation of the DRRM law and the nature of governance capacities to foster local disaster resiliency and mitigation. This paper addresses the following questions: [1] what are the organizational capacities, human resources, and technical capacities that LGUs need to foster local disaster preparedness; [2] what are the existing resources, opportunities, and practices that MDRRMO utilize and employ to meet the requirements of the DRRM law? [3]What are the costs and burdens that hinder MDRRMO from investing in disaster preparedness capacity building and how does it mitigate the costs of disaster preparedness capacity building? In the conduct of the study, City of Manila is purposively chosen for its propensity to be affected with natural disasters and high density of population. The researcher utilizes key informant interview with the DRRMO staff of the City of Manila, head of Personnel Department and the director of the DRRMO. The researcher employs qualitative method approach in the analysis of the gathered data and documentary analysis of the DRRM plan. Results show that MDRRMO falls short of the minimum requirements set by R.A. 10121 in terms of staffing, organizational structure and technical capacities of personnel. There are still
An assessment of capacities and resources of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction
Management Office: Towards resiliency to disaster
Abstract
By: Phyllis Marie S. Teanco*
Keywords: disaster risk reduction, governance, resiliency, local government, Manila
Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines are in the frontlines of disaster
management. The passage of the 2010 Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) law
requires LGUs to craft DRRM action plans, assemble local DRRM offices (LDRRMO), and
implement programs on disaster preparedness. Given this policy development, local governments
and communities need to build their capacities on disaster risk reduction and management.
This research assesses the local resources, and capacity opportunities of the City of
Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in developing disaster preparedness
programs and activities. It evaluates practices in local disaster preparedness, gaps in the
implementation of the DRRM law and the nature of governance capacities to foster local disaster
resiliency and mitigation.
This paper addresses the following questions: [1] what are the organizational capacities,
human resources, and technical capacities that LGUs need to foster local disaster preparedness;
[2] what are the existing resources, opportunities, and practices that MDRRMO utilize and
employ to meet the requirements of the DRRM law? [3]What are the costs and burdens that
hinder MDRRMO from investing in disaster preparedness capacity building and how does it
mitigate the costs of disaster preparedness capacity building?
In the conduct of the study, City of Manila is purposively chosen for its propensity to be
affected with natural disasters and high density of population. The researcher utilizes key
informant interview with the DRRMO staff of the City of Manila, head of Personnel Department
and the director of the DRRMO. The researcher employs qualitative method approach in the
analysis of the gathered data and documentary analysis of the DRRM plan.
Results show that MDRRMO falls short of the minimum requirements set by R.A. 10121
in terms of staffing, organizational structure and technical capacities of personnel. There are still
many gaps that needs to be addressed by the local government of Manila to be resilient to
disaster.
*Author’s note: The author is a Ph. D in candidate Development Studies at the De La Salle
University, Taft Manila. This study is conceptualized Dr. Francisco A. Magno who was the former
Director of Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance of the De La Salle University.
Introduction
One of the most urgent issues we are facing today is the threat of climate change
and disaster. As global climate changes, natural disaster like hurricanes, typhoons and
floods have become more intense. Witnessing the unpredictability of weathers nowadays,
it can be gleaned that more nations especially the developing ones, could face a future of
more disasters resulting in greater loss of life, poverty, and higher chance of social
disruption.
Given this ominous picture, our world leaders during the world conference on Disaster
Reduction held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan adopted a Framework for Action 2005-2015:
Building the resilience of Nations and Communities to disaster in order to address the
urgency of the matter. In this framework it laid down the road map to mitigate disaster
and prepare countries exposed to such risk. It acknowledged that efforts to reduce disaster
risks must be systematically integrated into policies, plans and programs for sustainable
development and poverty reduction, and supported through bilateral, regional and
international cooperation, including partnerships. It recognizes the fact that disaster and
climate change issues cannot be solely be the responsibility of national governments but
must be a shared burden by all sectors, (www.unisdr.org/wcdr ).
In response to all these challenges, Philippine Congress enacted in 2010 a disaster
risk reduction and management approach that is holistic, comprehensive and proactive in
lessening the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of disasters including climate
change. It also promotes the involvement and participation of all sectors and all
stakeholders concerned especially the local communities. In this manner, disaster risk
reduction can be addressed in a multi-level approach since all sectors have the propensity
to be exposed in the risk.
Research Objectives
While it is considered that developing the capacity of LGUs is imperative to
effectively implement the DRRM Law, it is still a puzzle as to what type of organizational
capacities, human resources, and technical resources LGUs need. A capacity needs
assessment is important to determine the specific knowledge and skills local governments
would need to acquire. For instance, the DRRM law requires cities and municipalities to
have local hazard mapping systems and local vulnerability assessment systems. This
would entail the evaluation of the LGUs' capacity and resources to fulfil their mandates
provided by the law.
Various studies have identified the lack of organizational capacity, support
systems, and resources of LGUs as critical barriers to implementation. However, these
have failed to identify the specific skills and resources needed by LGUs to fulfil their
mandates. In the same vein, there is a need to evaluate the capacity of local governments
in the context of developing training programs that will improve their skills in crafting
plans specific to climate change adaptation and DRRM.
This paper investigates the organizational capacities, human resources, and
technical capacities that LGUs need to foster local disaster preparedness. It also assesses
the local resources, and capacity opportunities of the City of Manila Disaster Risk
Reduction and Management Office in developing disaster preparedness programs and
activities. It evaluates practices in local disaster preparedness, gaps in the implementation
of the DRRM law and the nature of governance capacities to foster local disaster
resiliency and mitigation.
Rationale, Significance and Innovation
Given that disasters are increasing in terms of its magnitude, it is imperative that
local government units (LGUs) must be prepared since quick response is necessary to
avert further loss of lives and property. It is on this premise Republic Act 10121 An act
strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework was
enacted, mandating LGUs to organize a Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management
Council (LDRRMC) to ensure the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate
change adaptation (CCA) into the local development plans, programs and budgets as a
strategy in sustainable development and poverty reduction. Moreover, the law requires
the participation of civil society organizations (CSO) and other government agencies to
be part of the council primarily to craft the local DRRM plan. Lastly, the law requires the
establishment of an LDRRM office at the provincial, municipal and barangay level
responsible for the integration of DRRM plan and coordinate DRRM activities with the
community.
Studies on disaster specifically in the local context mainly focus on rehabilitation
and recovery and reconstruction analysis however little attention has been given on the
issue of resource capabilities and multi-stakeholder collaboration as important aspects for
local government in handling crisis. More often than not we have neglected in looking
into the resource capabilities of local government in managing disaster at every phase
(prevention, preparedness, mitigation and recovery) and collaboration efforts of different
stakeholders.
This study intends to make a contribution to practical approaches in disaster
management. Practical level can be achieved from understanding the role of networks in
disasters. This will increase knowledge about LGU and other institutions in achieving
better results in the future specifically on coordination and sharing of resources. It will
help them handle crucial issues through collaboration in non-hierarchical methods. Future
disaster responses will benefit from the accumulation of experience from previous
disasters because the actors involved will have a better understanding of role expectations
and appropriate processes, as well as more complete base on which to develop strategies
in response to their environment.
The findings of this research shall inform LGUs, national government agencies,
and civil society organizations to develop and implement capacity development programs
on disaster risk reduction particularly on disaster preparedness. It can help the DILG in
developing standards and indicators in local disaster preparedness.
Furthermore, the study shall provide inputs to the DILG Office for Informal
Settlers and local resource institutes from the private sector and civil society
organizations that are engaged in building the capacity of LGUs to craft programs that
will help especially poor communities in being resilient to disasters and able to adapt to
changing climatic conditions.
Conceptual Framework
Adaptive governance in DRRM
Proactive strategy in increasing resiliency must be a national effort encompassing
active partnerships, shared responsibility, a better understanding of the hazard-prone
environment and disaster impacts, and a capacitated community that acts on this plan. In
a decentralized system, local governments are tasked to directly address the local issues
and problems faced and the demands by their constituency. The rationale for
decentralization is for governments to enhance efficiency by matching community
preferences for quantities and qualities of public services and resource allocation.
Hazards are eco-system based and thus its method should not only be one track.
As argued by Folke et. al. (2005) theories and approaches to environment and resource
management have been focused and based on a steady-state view, looking at it that
change is slow and incremental disregarding interaction across scales. This piecemeal
strategy is less effective in the light of the current situation wherein the capacity of the
eco-systems to produce resources has become vulnerable to change and it should not be
taken for granted. In this framework Folke et. al highlights the importance of collective
governance of the eco-system in a multi-level method. Moreover, they (2005), posit that
adaptive governance is operationalized through adaptive co-management systems and
that the roles of social capital emphasizing networks, leadership, and trust are highlighted
in this context.
In this vein they assert that in case of governance, developing capacity of
individuals to learn effectively from their experiences is an important part of creating
knowledge and skills into an organization and institutions to allow good adaptive
management. To put it simply, the experiences of individuals is an important part of
governance and could benefit organizations however it requires also enhancement so that
it can prepare managers for uncertainty and surprise. Disaster may strike anytime but if
the organization is prepared and its managers can anticipate worst case scenario then it
can mitigate loss of lives and property.
Folke et.al (2005), argue that adaptive co-management depends on the
collaboration of a diverse set of stakeholders, working at different levels and varying
networks. The involvement of management powers and responsibility may comprise
multiple institutional networks. LGUs in other words need to explore all avenues of
managing resources and DRRM. It cannot solely rely of government‘s machinery since
of the complexity of the issue. What Folke et.al. are trying to suggest is that there must be
strong collaboration of networks . This may come different actors and levels in changing
local as well as government initiatives. They (2005), add that in times of rapid change,
informal social networks can offer avenues for innovations and enhance flexibility
because these are not present in a government set up. It must be emphasized rather that
these structures do not intend to supplant the existing hierarchical bureaucracies but only
complement them. Management of resources, eco-system and DRRM should be still the
province of a formal network and that is the government.
Community participation
Leadership for Folke et. al (2005) is an important ingredient in governance. They
argue that leadership is essential in shaping change and reorganization by providing
innovation to attain the flexibility required in managing the dynamics of eco-system.
Leaders for them can pave the way for vital functions for adaptive governance such as
building trust, making sense, managing conflict and collaborating with other actors.
LGUs in other words should continuously conduct dialogues in the local communities to
make them understand of the roles of different actors. For instance it is important to make
the community understand what the LGU can provide and cannot and its limitations. The
reason for this is that communities demonstrate what resources and capacity they have
rather than making them demands and opposing government’s policies or practices that
contravene their needs. Building trust is therefore is essential. Trust makes social life
predictable in times of unpredictability. It also fosters a sense of community and makes it
easier for people to work together say Folke et. al. (2005). When there is trust it
necessarily creates an environment of collaboration of the community because local
participation is crucial to ensure that the approach taken suits the needs of residents.
Research Design and Method
The study conducted key informant interviews (KIIs) with local disaster risk
reduction and management officer (LDRRMO) and its staff in the City of Manila which
is highly exposed to disasters and assess capacity gaps and needs in DRRM. The City of
Manila is purposively chosen for its propensity to be affected with natural disasters due to
the high density of population and the presence of informal settlers in the local
community. In fact Manila is the most densely populated city in the National Capital
Region. The researcher also interviews the head of the City Personnel Office and its staff
to know the hiring policy of employees specifically in the MDRRMO. The interviews
analyze the incentives and costs faced by Manila DRRMO in disaster preparedness
capacity development.
The study did library research and desk review of documents regarding local
government programs and practices. The data collected from the KIIs or FGDs were
documented and analyzed using qualitative method. Content analysis was utilized also
from the documents gathered from different offices of the Manila City Hall. The analysis
employed a governance approach to map out incentives, costs, burdens, and motivations
for investing in local DRRM capacity development.
Research Findings
Context of the study
Manila, capital of the Philippines, is situated in the southern part of the island of
Luzon, largest of the three main islands in the Philippine archipelago. Geographically, it
is the seventh largest city in Metropolitan Manila (also known as National Capital
Region). According to the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network
(GaWC), the historic, cultural, political and economic center of the Philippines is also a
Beta+ global city. Presidential Decree No. 940 proclaimed Manila as the Philippines’ seat
of government. The Malacañan Palace, Manila’s equivalent to the White House, is
located in the San Miguel district of Manila, (Manila DRRM Plan 2014-16).
Manila City is bordered by Navotas City and Caloocan City to the north, Quezon
City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong City to the east, Makati City to the
southeast and Pasay City to the south. Manila, blessed with an excellent harbour, is also
the country’s main seaport. Laid out initially in a city grid patterned after Washington
D.C. by American urban planner Daniel Burnham, it has a total land area of 35,
966,479.65 square kilometers and a population of 1.65 million (NSO, 2010) giving it
a density of 43,079 persons per square kilometer. This is just the Manila City itself, not
the greater Metro Manila area that is composed of 16 cities and a municipality.
The Tondo district is the largest area with a density of 69,297 persons per square
kilometer (NSO, 2007). City of Manila has 897 barangays with four districts pursuant to
R.A. 409, the charter creating City of Manila, (Manila DRRM Plan 2014-2016)
Hazardscape of Manila
The creation of Manila as a city started during the Spanish period, explains
Bankoff (2007). Urbanism was its cornerstone, a hierarchy of settlement that extended
from the village through the provincial town to the major capital city. Its capital city was
identified as the governmental, religious and commercial center and it was through this
nexus that power was articulated in the incorporated territory. He (2007) narrates that
Manila was founded in 1571 on the banks of the Pasig River which was abandoned by
indigenous settlements. Manila flourished due to its strategic location with its proximity
to China and the existing trade connections with its adjacent places. In 16th century, it was
one of the grandest early modern European cities in Asia, but because of fire and
earthquake that destroyed on numerous occasions most of its structures have been altered
suggests Bankoff (2007). The city after the 1645 earthquake emerged over the ensuing
centuries was neither wholly European nor Asian, but a combination of the two whose
form and substance was ultimately determined by the twin threats of conflagration and
seismic activity, (Bankoff, 2007).
Bankoff (2007) says that Manila was transformed due to fire and earthquake that
destroyed the city as early as 1583 and 1645 respectively. In fact since fire was a constant
hazard Spanish government was compelled to change from wooden structures to stone
metropolis. In the year 1645, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake destroyed Manila and the city
became a sepulcher for the inhabitants, (Bankoff, 2007).
As mentioned above, Manila is not only susceptible to fire and earthquake but
also flooding. With a population of approximately 1.7 million, it will not take so much
statistics to show that indeed Manila is densely populated. One of the hazards frequently
experienced in the city is flooding. It is caused by poor urban planning and weak solid
waste management. Two of the most frequently flooded barangay in Manila are Barangay
128 and 129 since both of them are located near the tributary of Pasig. Usually living
along the tributary are informal settlers, (Telles, 2014)
Framework of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM)
Prior to the enactment of R.A. 10121, disaster management in the Philippines was
from a purely disaster response approach focusing on the humanitarian assistance or
intervention during or immediately after a disaster. However, asserts Orallo (2011), the
humanitarian relief approach shifted to a proactive approach wherein disasters are
considered as a developmental concern due to unsustainable development practices.
Moreover, due to climate change, exponential growth of population and bad urban
planning, Philippines is plagued with natural disaster practically the entire year. In other
words our disaster management approach was anchored mainly on relief assistance and
improving engineering infrastructure.
With the passage of NDRRM law in 2010, disaster perspective shifted from
reactive to more proactive framework. Orallo (2011), explains that the major changes of
the new NDRRM law where previously technical approach using engineering and
technological solutions including prediction and modeling of natural hazards and
modifying hazards shifted into promoting non-structural and non-engineering measures
such as community-based disaster preparedness and early warning, indigenous
knowledge, and land use planning, which emphasized the need to modify vulnerabilities
(and capacities) instead of hazards. She (2011) further adds that the practice of single
hazard approach in the past has been substituted to multi or all-hazards approach. The
sectoral approach has become multi sectoral, and an all-government effort. And the
public sector led management of disaster became an all-society approach which is
participatory, inclusive, transparent, and gender fair, (Orallo, 2011).
Evidently, the new NDRRM law recognizes the fact that the responsibility of
disaster mitigation initiatives must not emanate only from the government but must also
involve different sectors of society. It gives premium on bottom-up participatory
approach because communities are the most vulnerable entity and usually the first to
suffer during disaster.
Institutionalization of Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO)
The City Council of Manila on its 12th regular session enacted City Ordinance No.
8323 series of 2013, creating the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management
Office (MDRRMO) defining its duties and responsibilities and appropriating funds for its
purpose for its full operation. Most of the staff at MDRRMO are also volunteers from
civil defense action group. When the director of MDRRMO was appointed, he brought
them along with him. The MDRRMO staff did not undergo any interview by the
Promotion and Selection Board (PSB) since he recruited them personally. As a matter of
policy, those only issued with permanent appoint go through the PSB. The Personnel
Department does not have a hand in choosing its staff. The appointment power belongs to
the local chief executive, (Quintos, 2015).
They are full time workers and even report during weekends if there are
emergency cases that need to be responded immediately. The director has requested items
for his staff based on the City Ordinance and the JMC however, until now his staff are
still on contractual status. Meaning they are not regular employees of the government and
their wages are rarely paid on time. This is one of the problems faced by the staff of
MDRRMO because they do not have security of tenure.
Although MDRRMO has requested items based on the City Ordinance however,
the City of Manila Personnel Department is still scrutinizing and reviewing if the items
requested matches the qualification standards issued by the Civil Service Commission
(CSC). Right now the MDRRMO staff are on the job order arrangement, (Tolentino,
2015).
Structure and personnel of MDRRMO
MDRRMO Centralized Command and Control Center (C-4) was established in
2013 during the incumbency of Mayor Joseph Estrada. The MDRRMO is headed by a
director with permanent appointment and 15 staff who are on contractual status. It has
five sub-units namely: medical, fire, communication, district and logistics coordinators.
They supervise the 897 barangays of Manila with a population of 1.8 million. The staff
were former volunteers of the Civil Defense Action Group (CDAG) and they are well
trained when it comes to emergency response and rescue, (Tolentino, 2015)
Head of MDRRMO: qualifications and experience
The director of MDRRM has a permanent appointment with a salary grade
position of 22. The item that he is occupying right now is Department of Public Services
III. Formerly, an officer of the Philippine Coast Guard with a rank of a captain. He is
currently taking his doctoral studies in Public Administration at the Universidad de
Manila. He trains his own people in emergency response and rescue since he has vast
experience when it comes to humanitarian relief and operation, (Yu, 2015).
The director started his passion in humanitarian relief when at the age 15 he
volunteered during the 1990 Luzon earthquake. The earthquake produced a 125 km.-long
ground rupture that stretched from Dingalan, Aurora, to Cuyapao Nueva Ecija as a result
of strike-slip movements along the Philippine Fault System. Baguio City was among the
areas hardest hit by the earthquake. He was one of those who volunteered to help in
extricating bodies buried from the rubbles of stones and building debris which collapsed
including one of their hotels in Baguio City, (Yu, 2015).
In 1995 the great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake occurred which recorded a 7.3
magnitude on the Richter scale. The director went to Japan as part of the assessment
team which started his advocacy engaging in humanitarian relief and emergency
response. Even if he is already the director of MDRRMO he still joins the firefighting
team of Binondo as part of the volunteer group, (Yu, 2015)
When Joseph Estrada was elected as Mayor of Manila in 2003, he was personally
invited by Mayor Estrada to head the DRRMO including his core volunteer group from
Civil Defense Action Group (CDAG). In fact immediately upon assumption of Joseph
Estrada as mayor of Manila, City Ordinance No. 8323 was enacted, creating the DRRM
office. The director had with him then only was a piece of paper containing his
appointment and his core group. Together they started what is now the Centralized
Command and Control Center (C4) or the MDRRMO located at the 4th floor of Manila
City Hall.
MDRRM Plan
The MDRRM plan outlines the activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of
the City of Manila with their partner stakeholders to build disaster resilient communities.
It also intends to institutionalize arrangements and measures in reducing disaster risks,
including projected climate risks and enhancing disaster preparedness by intensified
campaign in the barangay level.
One of the first accomplishments of MDRRMO is hazard mapping of the City of
Manila in which they establish partnership with Mines and Geoscience Bureau,
PHILVOCS and PAGASA to come up with a scientific hazard mapping and risk
assessment of Manila. The Office felt the need to consult the expertise of these offices
since Manila is highly vulnerable to hazards as mentioned above. They recognize the fact
that they do not have the technical expertise and skills to conduct hazard mapping and
risk assessment. MDRRMO lack also manpower to attend to all the needs of the 897
barangays not to mention informal settlers that proliferate along the banks of Pasig,
(Tolentino, 2015).
As laid out in the MDRRM plan, the hazard exposure and risk assessment
conducted by PHILVOCS, PAGASA and DOST are not integrated in it. It is noted that
aside from the science data given by theses government agencies, LGUs are required to
conduct their own HEV assessment based on the data from local knowledge and history
of hazard. This is to identify also areas that are highly exposed to hazards and would test
the community’s preparedness. MDRRMO cannot rely on the science-based assessment
but needs to validate it through local knowledge.
MDRRMO also organize a Manila Community Emergency Response Team
(MCERT) in which trainings are conducted every weekend among barangay officials and
volunteers. In spite of their frequent conduct of trainings, there are barangay officials that
are hesitant to join in these activities. Right now they have around 8000 volunteers and
mostly from the youth sector. Every time there is a major activity held in Manila, they
involved their volunteers like for instance the Pope’s visit last January of 2015, (Adriano,
2015).
Since MDRRMO has very limited staff and considering that there are 897
barangays in Manila, most of them handle trainings in the barangay level. They are also
trained in responding emergency and relief operations. It is imperative for MDRRMO to
train volunteers coming from Barangays since it is not possible for them to handle in
times of emergency
Early Warning Systems and preparedness: enhancing infrastructure systems
One of the top priorities of MDRRMO is to set up a fully equipped command
center before 2016. The command center must have accessed to all necessary data base
information from other government agencies, traffic management and communication
system in order to have a well-coordinated mechanism in times of disaster. The command
center was initially for traffic management purpose only to monitor traffics in all major
thoroughfares of Manila. However, the MDRRMO head suggested that it should also be
used to monitor Manila Bay area in case of storm surge and tsunami. This is the reason
why MDRRMO set up CCTV cameras not only in the streets but also placed CCTV
cameras in high rise buildings to check any movement along Roxas Boulevard, (Yu,
2015).
Furthermore, for FY 2015, MDRRMO has an allocated budget of P 500 million to
be used primarily in upgrading their equipment. The director intends to buy state-of the
art equipment to augment their existing tools for emergency, response and relief
operation. For early warning devise and equipment, MDRRMO purchased a P400 million
worth of a mobile van which is capable of ascertaining and reading the type of
biochemical products that may go airborne in case of terrorist attacks, (Tolentino, 2015).
MDRRMO also acquired a mass notification public address system in which in times of
evacuation it can inform the people within 3 km radius of Manila City Hall to evacuate
immediately. They also bought 100 new fiber boats and ambulances for emergency
response and relief operations and distributed to those hazard-prone barangays.
MDRRMO staff have trained Barangay personnel to operate these boats, (Enriquez,
2015).
Since the City of Manila is susceptible to floods and typhoons, in addition to
those equipment mentioned, MDRRMO has included in their procurement plan for 2015,
the purchase of a weather forecasting apparatus in order to track the storms and cyclones
including its strength and magnitude. For Mr. Yu, MDRRMO cannot solely rely on
PAGASA since time is of the essence. Through this equipment MDRRMO has real time
update and live feed from the satellite when typhoons enter the Philippine Area of
responsibility. MDRRMO also included in their procurement an apparatus that can detect
frequency of cell phones in case a building collapsed during earthquake to know if there
are still people buried alive in the rubles. It is imperative that MDRRMO must acquire
equipment since it is the only way in which to cater the needs of the constituents of
Manila. With very lean staff he has, it is not possible for MDRRMO to immediately
respond to emergency situations especially if the magnitude of the damage is immense,
(Yu, 2015).
Discussion and Analysis
Pains of birth
When the NDRRM law was enacted, decentralizing DRRM and mainstreaming at
the local level, LGUs have to respond to the calling and establish the necessary
infrastructures to meet the demands of the times and also comply the mandate of the law.
The problem lies not only in the budgetary requirements but more on the capacities of the
local government units to address the needs. It can be deduced from the interviews
conducted and documents gathered that MDRRMO experienced difficulties in meeting
the requirements of the law for the following reasons: [1] MDRRMO has insufficient
staff to cater the 897 barangays of the City of Manila; [2] personnel lack the technical
expertise when it comes to DRRM; [3] even if some of them had been to relief,
emergency and response activities however it is only a component of DRRM; [4]
personnel’s exposure to trainings are only in the humanitarian aspect, meaning search and
rescue; [5] MDRRMO has yet to establish linkages with CSOs, NGOs, the academe and
other government institutions for collaboration and partnership. They need to be
proactive in their approach and must involve other sectors of society. They cannot make
DRRM as a lonely crusade. MDRRMO must create partnership through community
mapping and show that cooperation can be facilitated through mutual recognition of the
role that each group plays vital role in DRRM.
MDRRMO in terms of governance has to transcend from the humanitarian lens to
holistic perspective. It is conceded that DRRM is a complex issue and cannot be solve
through a reactive process. They need fresh ideas and innovations and infused it with
what they have acquired in their experience in disaster relief. There are areas that can be
tapped still like the communities and private sectors. They need to enhance local
knowledge and social memory of disaster. The problem also lies in the hiring of staff in
the MDRRMO. Since they are only on job order status, the Personnel Department has no
way of reviewing their qualifications unless they are given a permanent appointment.
This is important in any organization that staff should meet the minimum requirements of
the law. However, due to the delayed issuance of the Memorandum Circular, LGUs are in
the dark as to what job description to be filled up since the qualification standards of
DRRM staff came very late. It is difficult to blame LGUs if the personnel fall short of the
minimum requirements under the Civil Service. The DRRM law and its implementing
rules did not include position classification and job description of the DRRM. It appears
that it was done in installment basis.
As to the head of the DRRMO, while he may had experience in disaster however,
he has to give attention also to the other thematic areas of DRRM which includes
prevention and mitigation, preparedness and rehabilitation. Be it noted that DRRM law
requires a holistic approach now. It may be understandable that the priority of MDRRMO
is to augment its facility given the propensity of the City of Manila to be highly exposed
to hazards and vulnerabilities but it requires also for the communities to be resilient to
disaster. Preparation may come in the form of capacitating communities by introducing
livelihood programs.
MDRRMO should tap civil society organizations to teach barangays
entrepreneurship skills in order to be self-reliant. Unfortunately there seems to be lacking
even in planning of MDRRMO. While they have hazard risk and vulnerability
assessment, they lack coordination in terms of hazard mapping with barangays and its
communities. This is important because history of hazards need to be mapped out based
on local knowledge.
It is also necessary also to coordinate with different government agencies. Though
MDRRMO identified already in their plan the different government agencies who shall
be responsible in extending them logistic support however, it is also necessary to
consolidate in the MDRRM plan all resources available. One of the proposed activities in
2015 by MDRRMO is that Manila government agencies must come up with their own
DRRM plan identifying specific outcomes, activities and resources then to be
consolidated in the MDRRM plan for 2016. Right now the MDRRM plan lacks the
concrete desired outcome, proposed activities and mechanisms for monitoring. These
things must be part of the plan for evaluation and assessment by the LDRRM council.
Gaps must therefore be identified and its weaknesses in order that as early as now the
direction of MDRRMO should be clear.
It is worth mentioning here that DRRM does not only mean LGUs’ capacity in
responding emergency situations but to make communities resilient to disaster.
Admittedly, due to a politicize environment there are indeed obstacles and one of these is
providing even the salaries of the staff. The bureaucratic arrangement of the LGUs
sometimes hinder proper implementation of DRRM. This is the reason that NDRRM law
was enacted and expand its frontiers by involving the private sector. Moreover, the
structure of the MDRRMO is not in accordance with the NDRRM law and even the City
Ordinance. Obviously, subunits are more focused on emergency response.
MDRRMO must transcend beyond humanitarian relief approach by engaging
other partner institutions in all their DRRM endeavors. Disaster itself is a complex
phenomenon. As such it needs a multi-dimensional and multi-level approach. Disasters
can alter the physical, social and economic environment on varying degrees as such it is
essential to underscore that communities need to prepare for such eventualities.
In the context of DRRM, the head of the MDRRMO should initiate collaboration.
He must be able to define the needs of his office to be able to chart the direction of
DRRM in the City of Manila. True, there is the council however, the director has
influenced too since he works full time in the office, and it presupposes he knows the
entire operation. More importantly, the LDRRMO implements the plan.
For instance, prevention should be the first step through mainstreaming disaster
in the community level. Meaning, there must be involvement of the community in the
crafting of the plan, hazard mapping and assessment, and installation of early warning
mechanisms. In this manner, the community can assess on their own their exposure to
vulnerabilities. They lessen their total reliance and dependence of government’s help. On
the other hand, government must also extend support in all phases of the DRRM plan. It
must steer its constituents to be more active and must transcend political differences
because disaster knows no bounds.
City of Manila is an example of a community that is diverse in social and
economic status. Like any local government unit it permeates too much politics. Thus
they should realize that they must set aside their differences and move forward as a one
community. Reality is that government cannot do it alone and must never pursue it alone.
It should be the first to reach out to all its constituents but necessarily it must build trust
among its people. One cannot engage a community when people are suspicious of your
intentions. They will always feel that they are being used for political agendas of the local
chief executives and local officials. Projects and programs fail because it has become the
avenue of these politicians and as a result people would stop supporting it.
In order to bridge the gap, MDRRMO must collaborate with CSOs and NGOs for
the implementation of the programs. The reason is that these private sectors have direct
link to the grassroots level and they have the credibility and sincerity which most LGUs
have little to speak of. Private sectors are devoid of any political agenda and do not have
political affiliations. They get their funding from external source and they have also the
technical skills to perform their task. Private sectors too have more flexible organizational
structure which is more efficient especially in time of disaster. There is minimal
bureaucracy in their system unlike most government agencies. No layers of decision-
making process that they need to go through for program implementation.
Most local government units on the other hand, operate in a very traditional
method and centralized manner. While it is true that powers in the national level have
been decentralized and devolved however, local chief executives function in a centralized
way. Everything must be scrutinized and approved by them. They must have a say in all
the transactions in their localities. Allocation of budgets take a very slow process because
it must pass scrutiny of different offices, thus delivery of public services is very
inefficient. There are many documents to comply before it gets the stamp of approval of
the local chief executives. In other words, government is still very centralized and
bureaucratic in many ways.
Furthermore, in the City of Manila there are barangays that are practically not
prioritizing DRRM at all. To solve this dilemma, MDRRMO should partner and
collaborate with other stakeholders especially the private sectors. The reason is that these
private sectors have technical expertise and experience in dealing with the grassroots.
They can empathize more with the communities’ needs and plight. They have wider
social networks and wider social collaboration with all walks of life. It is important that
our thrust and framework when it comes to DRRM should be encompassing and must
transcend borders. We cannot work in silos because disaster by its very nature affects us.
In sum, in order that NDRRM law be realized fully, LGUs must therefore assess
their capacity to meet the requirements. It does not mean that if there is meager budget
everything must fail. In fact the law now gives premium to private partnership because it
recognizes the fact that there is too much bureaucracy in the government and at the same
time there is also a need to involve different sectors. Experience may be of value but also
it must be coupled with learning new things and new concepts.
LGUs must be proactive. It must not solely focus on the search, rescue and relief
paradigm. It must also build relationships with the community. But before this can be
done LGUs must broaden their networks, it must involve stakeholders especially the
private sector and it must insulate communities from politics. Needless to say, the public
sector as a whole must be bridge makers and not only the bridge itself. They must set the
very foundation of this bridge and only then communities will have the confidence to
strengthen it.
Conclusion and recommendation
Historically, the city of Manila is rich with heritage so with disasters. As early as
1645 an earthquake with 7 magnitude turned the city into cemetery. Fire, storms surge
and cyclones continue to pose threat to the city. Given this scenario, it is imperative that
the city government should prepare its constituents for these eventualities. It cannot be
just mere spectators in these challenging times.
With the enactment of NDRRM law it allows LGUs to create their own plan to fit
in to the context of their locality. Due to the infancy of most of DRRM offices it tries to
meet the requirements of the law. Like the MDRRMO, it was established only in 2013
and yet it has undergone challenges already, first: its lean staff; second: lack of technical
expertise to most of the staff; third: shaky status of employment of the entire
MDRRRMO staff; fourth: lack of networking and collaboration with CSOs and other
government agencies; and lastly: the director must recognize the fact that he needs new,
creative innovations and fresh ideas to be able to infuse changes in the office. Even if he
was a former director of the OCD for NCR still he should be adaptive to change. Times
have changed and so the needs of the people and community. Governance cannot be a
one man show especially managing resources and planning DRRM. It must through
collective effort of the organization and other stakeholders. The kind of perspective in
which the director adheres to, reflects also the kind organization and the personnel that
man the MDRRMO. Apparently the he needs to step back so that he may be able to
identify the needs of MDRRMO based on the new law.
In the light of the of the urgency of disaster issues, the researcher recommends
that there should be more studies conducted relating to public and private sector
collaboration and how it can enhance in building resilient communities to disaster. A
model may be designed to guide public administrators and policy makers in engaging
CSOs and NGOs so as to coordinate and synchronize plans and programs from the local
level to the national level.
Studies may focus also in looking at the expected roles of these institutions and
how they can smoothly coordinate and synchronize their actions. More often than not
disasters are unpredictable especially its extent of damage and magnitude thus necessarily
it is important that stakeholders must understand their roles and functions during these
times. The Yolanda was a classic example that indeed national government has not really
fully understood its role vis-a-vis its relationship with the LGU in times of disaster.
Coordination and timing are very important in these times. To solve this, there must be an
operating manual to know the delineation and extent of every government agency’s role.
These areas must be explored further considering time is of the essence.
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List of Key Informants
Name Date of Interview Place of interview/ position
1. Adriano, John Joal March 24, 2015 MDRRMO/staff
2. Datudacula,
Abdullah
March 25, 2015 Civil Service
Commission/Human
Resource Personnel
3. Enriquez, James April 7, 2015 MDRRMO/staff
4. Llana, Mailen March 24, 2015 MDRRMO/staff
5. Quintos, Victor March 25, 2015 Personnel Office
Manila City Hall/Head
6. Quiambao, March 25, 2015 Personnel Office/Research
Rosemarie division
7. Tolentino, Antonio March 24, 2015
April 7, 2015
MDRRMO/staff
8. Tolido, Gerardo April 7, 2015 MDRRMO/staff
9. Yu, Johnny March 25, 2015 MDRRMO/Director
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.