The Philippines has good laws on disaster risk reduction but weak local governance tends to render these useless, the United Nations said.
A new UN report released Thursday found that poor urban governance led to ineffective building codes and land use planning at the local level.
"[L]egislation is insufﬁcient unless it is supported by strong political will to ensure implementation," the report dubbed "Disaster-induced internal displacement in the Philippines" said.
The report lauded the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 as a possible template for other countries.
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It also noted that the Philippine constitution and political system allow local executives to enforce policies that will keep the public out of disaster-prone areas.
"Yet the combination of high poverty and a pervasive system of patronage politics, results in a situation where a large percentage of the population is forced to live in exactly these places," the report said.
It cited as an example the impacts of typhoon Sendong, which struck Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and nearby Mindanao areas in December 2011, claiming more than 1,500 lives and displacing 430,000 others.
"Many of the tragedies caused by the storm could have been averted or minimised had
relevant authorities been held more accountable," the report said.
Among the accountability mechanisms recommended is transparency in use of funds from international donor agencies.
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The report particularly underscored the need to focus more on risk reduction than disaster response.
It also compared the casualties in Sendong to that of Pablo, which also hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan but only took one life due to pre-emptive evacuation.
The latest tragedy demonstrated "that large-scale casualties can be prevented and that disaster-related internal
displacement can be managed" with political will.
Recovery and reconstruction is also one of the areas in which the Philippines is wanting.
"The slow pace of recovery and reconstruction has meant that tens of thousands of people have become more vulnerable since the disaster," UN said.
This is especially true for those displaced by the effects of typhoons but have yet to "achieve a durable solution to their displacement."
"These people were at risk when Pablo struck Mindanao in December 2012," the report said.
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