Disaster dep’t bill ok vowed

September 30, 2018
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has assured the passage of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) principally sponsored by Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez in the coming days before Congress goes on Halloween break on October 13.

At the same time, Arroyo thanked the late Kabayan party-list Rep. Ciriaco "Acoy" Calalang, one of her volunteer-lawyers for the promotion of children's rights during her term as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), for joining Romualdez and other lawmakers as one of the principal authors of DDR.

She also learned that a Senate panel will report out the DDR measure after the Halloween break.

“Maipapasa na s’ya on third [and final] reading [sa House of Representatives] at sa Senate lalabas na daw sa committee pagbalik namin sa Halloween break,” Arroyo told reporters in an ambush interview.

Romualdez, who represents Tacloban City or the Ground Zero during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013,  stressed the passage of DDR into law would drastically reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards, spare many lives and save properties.

“We can now look forward to the future with hope, knowing that the government is ready, better equipped and committed to exert its best effort to reduce the risks that come with natural disasters, to empower local communities to rise above the different vulnerabilities that surround them and to ensure that in the years to come, such a tragedy will never happen again,” said Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on Accounts.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, another principal author of DDR, said the trail of death and destruction left by supertyphoon Ompong—the strongest typhoon thus far to hit the country this year— underscored the importance of passing the measure with dispatch.

“A new Cabinet-level Department would put in place and oversee disaster preparation, risk management and post-disaster relief and rehabilitation operations in lieu of the ad hoc nature of current government efforts, which has now become untenable with climate change,” said Villafuerte.

“In relation to this, I’m supporting the President’s directive to build permanent evacuation centers to replace the usual practice of converting public schools into temporary shelters for calamity victims.  This should be the first order of business for the would-be Department,” said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte said with permanent evacuation centers, “the government can better achieve its zero-casualty goals as the would-be Department could go full-blast on preemptive evacuation, especially of people in coastal and mountainous villages.”

The DDR shall also provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation, and anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques and options.

It shall also augment the capacity of local government units (LGUs) in collaboration with relevant national agencies and other stakeholders to implement disaster risk reduction and management and climate change action plans, programs, projects and activities.

The DDR shall be composed of the following: 1) Secretary to be appointed by the President; 2) five Undersecretaries. Each of the four Undersecretaries shall be responsible for resilience, policy and governance, operations, administration and finance, respectively, while the fifth one shall be the Senior Undersecretary; 3) 10 Assistant Secretaries; 4) 11 Service Directors who shall head the following services: administrative and financial management, logistics and resource management, operations, responders management, policy development and planning, capacity-development and training, legal affairs and compliance, disaster risk reduction, climate change, rehabilitation and recovery management, and strategic communications; 5) divisions, units and offices; 6) The National Climate and Disaster Resilience, Research, Education, and Training Institute ; 7) regional and other offices; 8) bureaus; 9) seconded personnel from relevant agencies; and 10) grievance desks in every region.