An average of 20 typhoons a year visit the Philippines: billions of pesos lost in properties, crops and lives

Photo courtesy: Nino N. Luces, Reuters

Ofel, Pepito, Quinta, Rolly and Siony? Do these names sound familiar?

For the past few weeks, at least five tropical depressions turned into typhoons have been lashing some regions of the Philippines, and the cost of losses due to the human casualties, destruction of crops and properties to many billion of pesos.

Lately, Typhoon Rolly, considered as the strongest typhoon in the world, had flattened the many cities and towns of Catanduanes province, and its destructive head continued to ravage the Bicol regions resulting from the lahar flood with volcanic boulders which buried many barangays and towns, causing many loss of lives and destruction of crops and properties along the way. There were more than 16 people who died in Catanduanes and in Bicol, respectively, and there are some who are still missing, probably buried under lahar.

As of this writing, more than P2 billion pesos had been lost in agriculture when super typhoon Rolly hit the province of Catanduanes alone. The incurred damages and losses to agriculture in Bicol region and the amount of damage of properties have not been tallied by the reporting agencies.

Help from the national, provincial and local government agencies and many NGOs have been pouring in to augment the needs for more food and shelter for the typhoon victims.

The Philippines is located along the typhoon belt in the Pacific and has been visited by an average of twenty typhoons every year, some of which are destructive, resulting in heavy casualties to human life and destruction to properties and agricultural crops. And the most common regions in the Philippines visited by the typhoon include Eastern Visayas, Bicol region, Southern, Central and Northern Luzon. While the Southern Visayas and Mindanao are largely free of typhoons.

And the ghost of Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 is still lurking as the deadliest typhoon where more than 5,000 lost their lives and considered as the costliest, amounting to the total loss of more than P95.5 billion Up to now, rehabilitations are still on going and has become a political issue because of the misused of disaster funds.

Among the deadliest typhoons in history include the following: Haiphong, September 27, 1881 with 20,000 deaths; Yolanda, November 7-8, 2012, with 6,300 deaths and more missing; Uring, Nov.4-7, 1991, with 5,101 deaths; Pablo, December 2-9, 2012, 1,901 casualties; and Angela on September 22, 1867, with more than 1,800 Filipinos lost their lives.

And among the costliest typhoons include, Yolanda, 2013, the Philippine economy suffered P95.5 billion pesos; Pablo, 2013, Ph43.2 billion; Glenda, 2014, Ph38,6 billion; Ompong, 2018; and Peping, 2009, P27.3 billion of pesos lost in the destruction of crops and properties.

What are the necessary measures the Philippine government has been planning and implementing to lessen the human casualties and the billions of pesos on crops and property losses?

For the past many administrations, tremendous efforts have been done to address the negative impact of typhoons in the Philippines, and the various departments and agencies have implemented some measures on climate change, and at the same time, the building of various infrastructure to minimize flooding in those regions visited by typhoons annually. But there has always been a holdup to mobilize the programs due to corruption.

Right now after his three years in presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte has requested the Department of Justice to form a mega-task force to combat the on-going corruption in the country, targeting the following departments: BIR, Bureau of Customs, Department of Public Works and PhilHealth.

Natural disasters have so much negative impact on the lives of the Filipinos, especially the farmers and with the latest devastations, many officials and farmers have been thinking of some changes in their agriculture initiatives.

Again, the resiliency of the Filipinos during the disasters give them the hope to rebuild their houses and rehabilitate their income producing agri-business.