Evolution of Disaster Laws in the Philippines

The Philippine disaster management system traces back its origin in 1941 when President Manuel L. Quezon created the Executive Order no. 335 (EO335) establishing the National Emergency Commission. This is to prepare its citizens in case the war in the Pacific imposes peril to the country. The said Executive Order implemented measures to control and coordinate civil-ian participation to meet serious crises. Consequently, Provincial Emergency Committee was created in charge of the supervision and control over Municipal Emer-gency Committees and City Emergency Committees.

Later in 1954, National Civil Defense Administration (NCDA) was established through Republic Act 1190. The said RA also created national and local civil defense councils. Thereafter, in 1968, NCDA was designated the national coordinator to oversee and implement Execu-tive Order 159 (EO159) that required the establishment of a disaster control organization by all government offices including departments, bureaus, offices, agen-cies, instrumentalities and political subdivisions of gov-ernment, including all corporations owned and/or con-trolled by government. The NCDA is tasked to report on the degree of preparedness of all government offic-es to the Office of the President.

In 1970, President Ferdinand Marcos saw the need to establish Disaster and Calamities Plan prepared by an Inter-Departmental Planning Group on Disasters and Calamities. Then in 1972, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) was established by a Letter of Instruction LI19. OCD was mandated to coordinate national level activities and functions of the national government, private institutions and civic.

Finally in 1978, through Presidential Decree 1566, National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) was established as the highest policy making body and the focal organization for disaster management in the country. The law also provided for the establishment of regional, provincial, city, municipal, and barangay disaster coordinating councils. Through the years, the Philippines has adopted various approaches from disaster preparedness and response in 1970s to disaster management in 1980s to disaster risk management in 1990s and eventually disaster risk reduc-tion in the years 2005 and beyond.