Cablegate: Embassy Manila Prepared for Typhoon Season

O 310424Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A)06 Manila 4148, (B)06 Manila 4423

1. Embassy Manila remains well-prepared and coordinated with local
authorities to respond to the upcoming typhoon season, which runs
through December. Typically, about 12 typhoons strike the
Philippines each year. Mission systems passed a major test on
September 29, 2006 when Typhoon Millenyo, the worst typhoon to hit
Manila in ten years, brought down power lines, trees and shanties
with its 200 mph winds.

2. Philippine national and local authorities have long experience
with disasters and considerable capacity to respond to them, despite
limited resources. The Philippine Defense Department's National
Defense Coordinating Council, (NDCC) is the coordinating agency for
natural/man-made disaster monitoring, reporting, and recovery in the
Philippines. U.S. Mission personnel have close working
relationships with NDCC enabling us to be in real-time contact on
analysis of disasters and requests for assistance. In 2006
USAID/OFDA provided nearly $837,000 in assistance in response to
three declared disasters, two for typhoons and one for mudslides.

3. Mission agencies and sections work as a team with the following
responsibilities under Chief of Mission leadership:

A. An Economic officer tracks and prepares front channel reports
on major typhoons in the Philippines. These reports analyze typhoon
impact on population centers, infrastructure, and the overall
economy while reporting U.S. assistance, clean-up, and consular
assistance to affected Amcits.

B. The Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group-Philippines
(JUSMAG-P) maintains liaison with key Philippine Government entities
responsible for monitoring and assimilating information relevant to
natural disasters. Entities include the National Disaster
Coordinating Council (NDCC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical &
Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), and the Philippine
Institute of Volcano and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). JUSMAG assessed
possible U.S. military support during the three most recent typhoons
entering the northern part of Luzon although no assistance has been
requested this year. In addition to maintaining liaison with Host
Nation government and military agencies, JUSMAG-P maintains
communication and reporting with the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM)
Headquarters to coordinate U.S. military assistance for disaster
relief, when requested by the Government of the Philippines.
JUSMAG-P remains prepared to stand up its internal support
operations within an hour of notification and/or anticipation of a
crisis and act as the USPACOM forward. They are likewise poised to
deploy LNOs to forward air/sea hubs to affected areas and embed U.S.
military advisors with Armed Forces of the Philippines units in
support of a disaster.

C. USAID/Philippines, in coordination with the Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance in Bangkok, monitors the effects of
typhoons, floods, and other natural disasters to help determine when
U.S. humanitarian assistance is warranted. USAID has relationships
with the Philippine National Red Cross and other local and
international NGOs for management of relief supplies and livelihood
recovery through partners, when needed.

D. Embassy Management Section's GSO prepares emergency
support, including emergency lights, water containers, first aid
kits, gloves, masks and emergency repair supplies. GSO further
provides central laundry, water, refrigerator and freezer capacity
for employees in need, and reserves hotel rooms for displaced USDH.
The Mission's locally employed staff receives support as well in the
form of water containers, employee association loans, and supplies
for emergency residential repair, in addition to emergency
dormitory, laundry and kitchen access on both compounds, with
bedding and utensils. Emergency kits (bedding, water, tools, first
aid kits, mobile medical supplies) are stored on both Embassy
compounds for staff in distress and who must stay overnight in an
emergency while the Facility Maintenance section maintains
round-the-clock crews to handle emergencies.

E. Regional Security Office (RSO) responds to life-safety
concerns of Mission employees and works to ensure the security of
Mission facilities and residences and readies a large guard force
for bad weather. RSO works closely with the Marine Security Guard
Detachment for radio messaging and ensures that host country
emergency equipment is available for evacuation or clean-up of
Embassy facilities.

F. Finally, the Information Management Section (IMO) manages
an extensive text messaging, telephone tree and neighborhood warden
communication system, the backbone of crisis communications.

4. Post is scheduled for an FSI Crisis Management Exercise next
month and will continue to refine preparations in hopes that, like
carrying an umbrella on a sunny day, we'll forestall the worst by
being prepared.


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