When and why a state of calamity is declared

Published November 18, 2020, 1:10 PM

by Betheena Unite

The entire Luzon has been placed under a state of calamity after a series of typhoons battered the island this month.

Rescuers pull a rubber boat carrying residents through a flooded street after Typhoon Vamco hit in Marikina City, suburban Manila on November 12, 2020.
(Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the Philippines, being placed under a state of calamity usually signifies an overwhelming devastation caused by a calamity that a national intervention needs to be enforced to get the affected area back on its feet.  

Republic Act 10121, the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction Management Act of 2010,” defined a state of calamity as “a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads, and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard.”

But when does a state of calamity must be declared and what are the determinants to declare such?

A state of calamity is declared depending on the number of deaths or casualties, the extent of destruction to properties and infrastructure, disruption of businesses and livelihood, and the inability of people to continue with their normal way of life.

Who declares a state of calamity?

Under RA 10121, the national council recommends to the President the declaration of a cluster of barangays, municipalities, cities, provinces, and regions under a state of calamity.

A local government can also place its jurisdiction under a state of calamity.

Based on the criteria set by the National Council, the national state of calamity may be lifted while the local government can issue the lifting of the state of calamity upon the recommendation of its Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Why does a state of calamity need to be declared?

Placing an area under a state of calamity intends to reprogram funds for the repair and safety upgrading of public infrastructure and facilities, impose price ceiling on basic necessities and prime commodities, grant no-interest loans to the most affected section of the population through cooperatives or organizations, and to monitor, prevent, and control overpricing/profiteering and hoarding of prime commodities, medicines, and petroleum products.

These are implemented in order to help the affected areas recover from the devastation caused by calamities.

The President’s declaration of a state of calamity may also warrant international humanitarian assistance as deemed necessary.

Effects of declaring a state of calamity

  • Upon the declaration of a state of calamity, a price freeze on basic necessities will be effective within 60 days, except if the declaration is lifted before reaching 60 days.
  • A price ceiling will also be set on prime commodities while the Local Price Coordination Council is authorized to prevent and control overpricing of basic necessities and commodities.
  • No-interest loans by government financing or lending institutions will be granted to the most-affected individuals.
  • A calamity fund will also be released for the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructures and facilities.
  • A supplemental budget may also be used by local government units to procure equipment and services deemed useful for their disaster resilience efforts.
  • Under RA 10121, the importation and donation of food supplies, clothes, medicines, and equipment useful in responding to calamities will be authorized.
 
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