Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/09/2014 -- In Q413, Typhoon Haiyan has unsurprisingly been at the centre of defence and security developments in the Philippines. Recent estimates suggest that the cost of reconstruction may reach over US $5 billion. The latest figures put the death toll at over 5,000, with many more people still missing. The Pacific Disaster Center puts the number of destroyed or damaged houses at over 1 million. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan many questions have been raised regarding the response of the Philippine military in disaster affected areas. This has led to discussions over the priorities of the Philippines military as well as the quality and quantity of its equipment. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the typhoon renewed speculations has arisen about the Philippines close relationship with the United States. In other developments, the Philippine government strongly rejected China's newly declared 'air defence zone' in the East China Sea. This once again reaffirms the Philippines commitment to boosting regional alliances to counterbalance China's increasing assertiveness.
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The Philippine military's response to Typhoon Haiyan highlighted many deficiencies in its ability to respond effectively to natural disasters. There have been numerous accounts citing the army's lack of sophisticated communications equipment. Instead messages were ferried between provincial headquarters and disaster stricken areas via an impromptu courier system of motorcycles and boats. Furthermore the Philippine military claimed that it only had three functioning transport aircraft to deliver troops and supplies in the days after Typhoon Haiyan.
Consequently, renewed discussions over the future path of the Philippine military have developed. Typhoon Haiyan has the potential to significantly shape the development path taken by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). A challenging geo-political environment, a susceptibility to natural disaster such as typhoons and earthquakes, as well as domestic counterinsurgency operations, have left the AFP overstretched. There is a developing opinion that that AFP must choose between orienting itself towards external defence or humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR). However, given China's increasing aggression in asserting its regional territorial claims - most recently demonstrated by its declaration of an 'air defence zone' in the East China Sea - the AFP is left with a strategic dilemma regarding the allocation of finite resources.
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