US embassy cable - 07MANILA2050

Building Capacity in Disaster Response

Identifier: 07MANILA2050
Wikileaks: View 07MANILA2050 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Manila
Created: 2007-06-20 08:14:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: SENV EWWT OTRA EAID RP
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO0352
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2050/01 1710814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200814Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7042
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RULSJGA/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUSICWP/COMLOGGRUWESTPAC SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002050 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EAP/EX AND EAP/MTS 
STATE PASS EPA 
STATE PASS USAID 
USDOC FOR NOAA/NMMS 
USDA PASS FOREST SERVICE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, EWWT, OTRA, EAID, RP 
SUBJECT: Building Capacity in Disaster Response 
 
REF: (a) MANILA 03478 (b) MANILA 03549 
 
-------- 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. Embassy Manila capped its assistance for the worst oil spill in 
the Philippine history by sponsoring a workshop for Philippine 
stakeholders to upgrade and update planning, response, and damage 
mitigation processes for oil spills and other disasters.  Two oil 
spill experts from the U.S. Coast Guard and a National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration scientist returned to the Philippines to 
facilitate a workshop, conduct consultations, and assess the spill 
site.  Over 40 representatives of the Philippine government, oil 
industry, and civil society agreed to form a working group to seek 
presidential approval to craft an improved disaster plan. 
 
----------------- 
WORKSHOP FINDINGS 
----------------- 
 
2. A broad cross-section of Philippine society participated in the 
workshop, held in Manila from May 21-23, including representatives 
from seven Philippine governmental agencies, including the lead 
agency for disasters, various environmental agencies, and the 
Philippine Coast Guard; officials from the four largest oil 
companies shipping in Philippine waters; and leaders from two 
non-governmental groups.  Three representatives from international 
organizations also made presentations on available support and 
expertise in the region.  This was the first time all of these 
entities met since the Solar I oil spill (reftels) occurred on 
Guimaras Island on August 11, 2006. 
 
3.  Facilitators organized two days of post-workshop consultations. 
These meetings served to consolidate, refine, and prioritize the 
workshop findings.  Participants unanimously agreed to form a 
Technical Working Group consisting of all entities represented at 
the workshop and report directly to the National Disaster 
Coordinating Council Chairman.  The group composed a final document, 
which will be presented at the next Council meeting and the group 
will urge immediate implementation of its recommendations. 
 
4.  The participants agreed that a revision of the Philippine 
national disaster plan is necessary and formed a        Technical 
Working Group to review and improve these plans. The charter to 
formalize this group will be presented to Philippine President 
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and will incorporate the following:  a) The 
National Disaster Coordinating Council will lead the implementation 
of national disaster mitigation and response plans; b) utilize a 
unified command structure charging agencies and responsible parties 
with appropriate authority and jurisdiction; c)adopt a national 
incident management system that ensures participation of 
stakeholders in planning, exercises and response at all levels; d) 
improve preventive measures and standards for transportation safety 
to reduce future spills; e) clarify stakeholders' roles in the 
planning process; f) identify domestic and international scientific 
experts in  plans at all levels; g) develop standard rates for 
service providers; h) pinpoint best practices for debris collection 
and disposal; i) identify domestic and international media 
management specialists; j) improve access to technical experts and 
information; k) develop baseline data for socioeconomic activities 
in coastal communities and house it in a central repository; and l) 
identify training needs for Philippine Coast Guard personnel, 
industry, contractors, stakeholders, and volunteers. 
 
5. The week of May 28th, the NOAA scientist returned Guimaras Island 
with the Department of EnQonment and Natural Resource scientists 
to evaluate residual damage from the bunker fuel. Although the 
affected mangroves are showing some signs of stress and patchy 
mortality, most of the trees have survived the oiling and their 
recovery is well underway.  From the onset, the NOAA scientist 
recommended that responders refrain from cleaning the oiled 
mangroves. Most of the oil that initially coated mangrove trunks and 
roots was naturally cleaned by the abrasion of tidal action, 
accelerated by a September typhoon.  This visit validated the 
initial recommendation and no further action needs to be taken to 
clean or treat the mangroves: they will continue to recover 
 
MANILA 00002050  002 OF 002 
 
 
naturally.  Previously oiled sand and gravel beaches observed during 
the May visit also appeared to be much cleaner.  The early manual 
debris removal and subsequent wave action have helped rehabilitate 
even the most heavily oiled gravel shorelines. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
6.  The Oil Spill Workshop provided a structured assessment of the 
Solar I oil spill and a platform to improve planning and 
coordination.  This post-disaster activity comes at an opportune 
time, since the Oil Pollution Compensation Act of 2007 became law on 
June 4, 2007.  This legislation creates a local mechanism for the 
prevention, mitigation and control of oil pollution within the 
territorial boundaries of the country.  The inter-governmental 
recommendations from the workshop can serve as the basis for 
crafting the act's implementing rules and regulations. 
 
KENNEY 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04