Disaster Management in the Philippines

Media, Unions, and Humanitarian Action

Authored by: Kim Scipes

The Routledge Companion To Media and Humanitarian Action

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138688575
eBook ISBN: 9781315538129
Adobe ISBN:


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As the planet continues to heat up, all expectations are that there will be more and more “natural” disasters in the world. Perhaps the people most at risk are those in the island nations. These are often small, atoll island nations—such as the Maldives Islands, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu—but this also extends to larger island nations, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and will extend to low-lying mainland areas, such as the Ganges Delta in Bangladesh. Most of the emphasis to date has been on government and NGO (non-governmental organizations) responses to disasters, which are often among first responders, and certainly that is who the media focus their attention upon when covering responses to such disasters. However, once the TV cameras leave, the remaining recovery work is often desultory, taking years for an affected area to fully recover. This has been the experience of the Philippines in addressing the problems of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the country in November 2013. Studies of natural disasters tend to ignore the social impact of such events. This study foregrounds this, and argues that progressive trade unions and their allies should be involved in responses to natural disasters. Discussing the KMU Labor Center of the Philippines, this study argues that the KMU has qualities that would help overcome the impact of natural disasters on affected communities. Further, Scipes suggests that active involvement with media can lead to better news coverage of natural disasters by providing access to affected communities for news reporters, while utilizing organizational strengths to help communities mitigate and recover from the impact of such disasters. Using the Philippines as a case study it is argued in this chapter that an important and overlooked resource that might bridge the gap between natural disaster victims and government/NGO responders is the country’s organized labor movement.

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