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The Philippines Disaster Diplomacy

in association with
Radix:  Radical Interpretations of and Solutions for Disasters

The Philippines Disaster Diplomacy
(Suggested by JC Gaillard.)


  • Kelman, I. and JC Gaillard. 2007. "Disaster Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific Region". UN/ISDR Informs: Disaster Reduction in Asia Pacific, issue 3, pp. 54-57, full text (610 kb in pdf).

  • Klimesova, M. 2011 (March). Using Carrots to Bring Peace? Negotiation and Third Party Involvement. PhD Dissertation, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic, abstract in English and Czech (236 kb in pdf) and then published as:
    Klimesova, M. 2016. Using Carrots to Bring Peace? Negotiation and Third Party Involvement. World Scientific, Singapore.

  • Orillos-Juan, Ma F. 2012. "Ang Bisa at Hinaharap ng Lapit na Disaster Diplomacy sa Kasaysayang Pangkapaligiran ng Pilipinas: Isang Inisyal na Pagtatasa". Dalumat E-Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 118-125, full text in Tagalog (160 kb in PDF) and an English summary (11 kb in PDF).

  • Siddiqi, A. 2018. "Stories from the frontlines: decolonising social contracts for disasters". Disasters, vol. 42, no. S2, pp. S215-S238.

  • Walch, C. 2014. "Collaboration or obstruction? Rebel group behavior during natural disaster relief in the Philippines". Political Geography, vol. 43, pp. 40-50.

  • Walch, C. 2016. Conflict in the Eye of the Storm. Micro-dynamics of Natural Disasters, Cooperation and Armed Conflict. PhD Dissertation in the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Central Luzon Earthquake (16 July 1990)


  • 16 July 1990. An earthquake kills at least 1,700 people, injures over 3,500 people, and leaves 27,000 families homeless.

  • Were there any implications for peace or conflict?

Pinatubo Eruption (May-August 1991)


  • April 1991. Mount Pinatubo shows signs of volcanic activity, likely triggered by the Central Luzon Earthquake (16 July 1990).

  • May-June 1991. The volcanic activity slowly increases, climaxing in mid-June in one of the 20th century's most powerful eruptions. During these months, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced and millions are directly affected. Several hundred die during the eruptions, and, in later weeks, several hundred more die in evacuation camps.

  • July-August 1991. Mount Pinatubo quietens down, but leaves a legacy of lahars affecting surrounding communities over the next decade.

  • The eruption destroyed the nearby American Air Force base and influenced negotiations over renewing the lease on the nearby American Naval base, but overall, the volcano was one factor amongst many regarding the American military presence in the Philippines. Were there any other implications for peace or conflict?

Other sources:

Some sources touch upon aspects of the disaster diplomacy of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, especially with regards to the American military bases:

  • Gaillard, JC, I. Kelman, and M.F. Orillos. 2009. "USA-Philippines Military Relations After The Mt Pinatubo Eruption In 1991: A Disaster Diplomacy Perspective". European Journal of East Asian Studies, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 301-330, more information.

  • Kelman, I. 1998. Role of Technology in Managing Vulnerability to Natural Disasters, with Case Studies of Volcanic Disasters on Non-Industrialized Islands (including the case study of Mount Pinatubo). Master of Applied Science dissertation supervised by Prof. B. Karney, University of Toronto. Download the entire dissertation (links to another website with the downloads).

  • Leone, F. and JC Gaillard. 1999. "Analysis of the institutional and social responses to the eruption and the lahars of Mount Pinatubo volcano from 1991 to 1998 (Central Luzon, Philippines)". GeoJournal, vol. 49, pp. 223-238.

Quezon Flooding and Mudslides (November-December 2004)


  • 14-21 November 2004. Typhoon Unding kills 68 people and injures 169, with 69 missing.

  • 22-23 November 2004. Typhoon Violeta kills 31 people and injures 187, with 17 missing.

  • 28-30 November 2004. Typhoon Winnie kills 893 people and injures 648, with 443 missing.

  • 29 November 2004. Eight soldiers who were trekking to the disaster area on relief missions are ambushed and killed by suspected New People's Army members in Bulacan province.

  • 30 November to 4 December 2004. Typhoon Yoyong kills 73 people and injures 168, with 24 missing.

  • 3 December 2004. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accuses the New People's Army of rampant illegal logging activities in Quezon province which exacerbated the flooding and landslides.

  • 7 December 2004. The Communist Party of the Philippines replies to the government's accusations and pinpoints the government's and the Armed Forces of the Philippines' responsibility in covering up for illegal logging companies. The Communist Party of the Philippines also asserts that it has always opposed logging.

  • 11 December 2004. The Philippine government maintains its accusation against the New People's Army.

  • 21 December 2004. The Communist Party of the Philippines reaffirms its accusations against the government.


  • By JC Gaillard, Catherine C. Liamzon, and Jessica D. Villanueva (6 July 2005):

    Edited from Gaillard, JC, C.C. Liamzon, and J.D. Villanueva. 2007. "'Natural' disaster? A retrospective into the causes of the late-2004 typhoon disaster in Eastern Luzon, Philippines". Environmental Hazards, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 257-270.

             Illegal logging was quickly identified as one of the causes of the devastating slope failures and floods. Filipino government officials promptly associated illegal logging with the decades-long armed struggle of the government against the leftist insurgency of the New People's Army (NPA). President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was quoted that "we will go after these illegal loggers. You know a lot of the illegal loggers are NPAs". On the other hand, opposition representatives blamed the government for not tracking down the loggers and considered that "the actions of this administration directly contributed to the national tragedy we have experienced, and will result in similar tragedies in the future". The opposition further suggested subjecting loggers to the death penalty.
             Looking for scapegoats in the face of disasters is common and often relieves the accusers of their own, conscious or unconscious, guilt feelings. The scapegoats are usually selected on the basis of latent hostilities or due to their violation of moral standards and basic values. Here, the government used the disaster to further charge the NPA at a time when the conflict with separatist Muslim groups cooled down. The death of hundreds of innocent victims was then a powerful argument. On the other side, opposition leaders who were fighting the incumbent president following its controversial election in May 2004 found new evidence to justify their struggle. The arguments from both sides were relayed by media accomplices. The late-2004 disaster in Eastern Luzon has been politically constructed by the government, opposition politicians and the media, around the alleged responsibility of both Nature and illegal loggers. This political construction is the antithesis of what disaster diplomacy proposes.

Caraga Floods and Leyte Landslide (February 2006)


  • 11-17 February 2006. Heavy rainfall triggers flash floods killing five people in Butuan and Surigao del Sur. Thousands are forced to evacuate.

  • 17 February 2006. The National Democratic Front, a front organisation of Filipino revolutionary groups which is led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, claims that the flash floods were triggered by large-scale logging and mining and the government's wanton disregard to environmental protection. A huge landslide buries the village of Guinsaugon in St. Bernard in southern Leyte, killing 141 people with 980 missing among whom are 280 pupils and teachers trapped inside the school.

  • 19 February 2006. The Communist Party of the Philippines asks New People's Army members to undertake all possible efforts at extending assistance to the rescue and relief operations in the area and emphasises the government's role in illegal logging.

Bulusan Eruption (March-June 2006)


  • 21 March 2006. A modest ash explosion occurs at Bulusan's summit crater. Entry into the 4-km radius permanent danger zone is prohibited. No casualties or damage are reported.

  • April to early June 2006. Similar explosions as in March. On 10 June 2006, one person dies because of asthma aggravated by exposure to ash.

  • 18 June 2006. Bulusan expels ash again leading to the evacuation of 700 people under the supervision of the Filipino Army.

  • 20 June 2006. The Filipino government proposes a ceasefire to the New People's Army. Some reports suggest that the New People's Army is observing a de facto ceasefire in the region near Bulusan Volcano.

Mayon Eruption (February-October 2006)


Typhoon Reming (December 2006)


  • 30 November 2006. The height of Typhoon Reming over the Philippines which results in flooding and mudflows killing more than a thousand people especially around Bicol.

  • 3 December 2006. The Communist Party of the Philippines requested that its allies the New People's Army and linked forces carry out relief and rehabilitation work in all areas devastated by the typhoon.

  • 4 December 2006. Media report that the Philippine Army retrieved 30 bodies of suspected New People's Army rebels along with arms, ammunitions and documents.

  • 5-7 December 2006. The National Democratic Front declares a unilateral ceasefire in Albay to assist with rescue and relief operations. Appeals for international assistance are made.

Typhoon Mitag (Typhoon Mina) and Typhoon Hagibis (Typhoon Lando) (November 2007)


  • 24 November 2007. The Armed Forces of the Philippines states that they have declared a unilateral ceasefire in the entire Luzon and Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan areas though a "suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO)" against the New People's Army. The reason is to prioritise disaster preparedness and response operations for the imminent landfall of Typhoon Mina (called Typhoon Mitag internationally).

  • 25 November 2007. The Armed Forces of the Philippines expands their unilateral ceasefire to the Visayas region as Typhoon Lando (called Typhoon Hagibis internationally) aims for landfall. The Communist Party of the Philippines responds stating that unilateral ceasefires and humanitarian assistance are part of their normal operations for places hit by disasters.

Typhoon Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana) and Typhoon Pepeng (Typhoon Parma) (September-October 2009)


  • 27 September 2009. After Typhoon Ketsana floods a significant proportion of Manila, guerrillas in the area start a unilateral ceasefire.

  • 15 October 2009. Typhoon Parma hits northern parts of the Philippines, isolating many areas due to landslides. The death toll from recent typhoons exceeds 700. The guerrillas extend their unilateral ceasefire and state that they are distributing relief supplies.

Bulusan Eruption (November 2010)


  • 25 November 2010. After Mt. Bulusan erupted on 24 November 2010, the New People's Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines agreed to a truce in six towns within a ten-kilometre radius around the volcano: Juban, Irosin, Gubat, Barcelona, Casiguran and Bulusan. The break in fighting is specifically to permit relief supplies to get through and will last only while the volcano is erupting.

Floods (February 2011)


  • February 2011. Floods in different parts of the Philippines do not support disaster diplomacy. In eastern Mindanao, police alleged that the New People's Army attacked a security team for flood relief workers, killing two civilians and kidnapping one police officer. Meanwhile, in central Samar Island, the New People's Army was suggested as giving significant support to flood-affected people, although the simultaneous resumption of local peace talks was not linked directly to the disaster.

Typhoon Sendong (Typhoon Washi) (December 2011)


  • 16-18 December 2011. Typhoon Washi hits the Philippines, resulting in a death toll between 1,000-3,000 from floods and landslides and leaving approximately 60,000 people homeless. The Filipino government and New People's Army rebels in the area each stated that they would obey a unilateral ceasefire for the Christmas and New Year holidays, although that sometimes happens each year, irrespective of disasters.

  • 20 December 2011. The Filipino government releases a statement that is highly complimentary about the guerrillas' ceasefire. The Communist Party of the Philippines states that rebels affiliated with it should assist in disaster response and relief, but the statement also blamed the disaster on developers and the authorities.

  • 26 December 2011. The Communist Party of the Philippines has again said that New People's Army fighters should raise funds for disaster-affected people and assist with disaster relief. This announcement coincided with the 43rd anniversary of the founding of the Party. Meanwhile, the military and guerrillas exchanged charges regarding who was responsible and who was taking advantage of the disaster situation.

Typhoon Bopha (Typhoon Pablo) (December 2012)


  • 3-4 December 2012. Typhoon Bopha hits Mindanao, killing over 1,000 people.

  • 6 December 2012. The New People's Army, communist guerrillas, offers a temporary truce in the areas affected by the typhoon. The National Democratic Front Southern Mindanao offers condolences to those suffering and urges its allies to support the people affected, including by raising funds--but the statement criticises the Filipino government for inept disaster relief and for contributing to the people's vulnerability to typhoons in the first place.

Typhoon Haiyan (Typhoon Yolanda) (November 2013)


  • Field, J. 2018. "Divided disasters: examining the impacts of the conflict-disaster nexus for distanced crises in the Philippines". Disasters, vol. 42, no. S2, pp. S265-S286.

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