THE total cost of damage arising from by “major natural extreme events and disasters” was estimated at P374.199 billion in the 10 years to 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The agency gave a separate estimate for economic losses due to natural and human-induced disasters of P139.748 billion, with natural disasters accounting for P132.910 billion of the total.
The data were reported in the PSA’s 2016 edition of the Compendium of Philippine Environment Statistics (CPES)
According to the PSA, economic losses include “damage to buildings and transportation networks, loss of revenue for businesses, and loss of crops, among other material indicators.”
Across the 10-year reference period, 2009 was the worst for economic losses due to natural disasters at P45.084 billion largely due to tropical cyclones (P43.423 billion).
In that year, economic losses in infrastructure were estimated at P30.711 billion, followed by agriculture (P13.354 billion) and private property/communication (P1.018 billion).
Meanwhile, 2013 was the worst year for man-made disasters at P3.614 billion, with armed conflict accounting for P3.088 billion, fire (P524.6 million) and fishkill (P1.2 million).
The CPES’ P374.199 billion estimate for damage from “major natural extreme events and disasters” includes damage to agriculture worth P225.626 billion, infrastructure P81.974 billion and private property P66.598 billion.
The top years for such losses were 2013 (P106.666 billion), 2014 (P53.526 billion), 2012 (P44.948 billion) and 2009 (P44.438 billion).
Natural disasters in 2013 include, one major earthquake, two tropical depressions, six tropical storms, and three typhoons which included typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) in November of that year which killed 6,300 and affected 3.42 million families while causing P95.483 billion worth of damage.
Other destructive weather events include typhoon Pablo in 2012 (P43.164 billion), typhoon Glenda in 2014 (P38.617 billion); typhoon Pepeng in 2009 (P27.215 billion); typhoon Pedring in 2011 (P15.553 billion); typhoon Lando in 2015 (P14.392 billion); typhoon Frank in 2008 (13.338 billion); the July 2015-2016 El Niño (P12.834 billion); typhoon Juan in 2010 (P12.010 billion) and tropical storm Ondoy in 2009 (P10.796 billion).
Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines, called these figures “staggering.”
“They run up to billions of pesos in losses. It’s really difficult because the usual victim is the agriculture sector and its stakeholders.”
He said the high economic costs can be attributed to the higher frequency of natural disasters compared to years before.
“There are many empirical studies that link the frequency of weather disturbances, in particular, with the increasing temperature,” he said.
However, he cautioned that estimating losses is “quite tricky because some natural disasters are observed to be coming from man-made causes.”
“However, I maintain with my initial observation that the frequency of natural disasters has been higher lately…,” he added.
Mr. Asuncion said much of the infrastructure and property damage suggests the weather events hit “more densely populated areas.”
The biennial CPES is a compilation of environment statistics collected from various government agencies. — Leo Jaymar G. Uy and Lourdes O. Pilar