House okays disaster dep’t bill

Yedda Marie K. Romualdez
SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (4th from right), assisted by Committee on Accounts Chairperson and Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez (2nd from right) and her husband Philippine Constitution Association President Martin Romualdez (3rd from right), turns over a check for P6.75 million to Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. president Luli A. Bernas (6th right) for Marawi rehabilitation. The money comes from the contribution of all House members. Looking on are other officers of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. Photo by Ver Noveno

Co-principal author Romualdez urges Senate to fast-track its own version.

THE bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) was passed on third and final reading in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had vowed to expedite the passage of the measure as she underscored the need to have a separate department that will address the impact and mitigation of calamities.

Principal author of House Bill 8056, Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, chairperson of the House committee on accounts, appealed to the Senate leadership to fast-track the passage of the proposed law.

Romualdez said more than anything else this bill would help drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, the bureaucratic red tape that has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by disaster and calamity victims.

“I thank my colleagues and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for their strong commitment to pass the DDR that guarantees a unity of command, science-based approach, and full-time focus on natural hazards and
disasters.

”With Speaker Arroyo’s competence and sterling qualities as an experienced leader, we can be assured that the measure will also be approved in the Senate and become a law very soon,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez, whose district, which includes Tacloban City, was hardest hit by super typhoon Yolanda in 2013, said the DDR will give Filipinos high hopes for the government to respond quickly to natural disasters.

Under the measure, the DDR is mandated as the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, and prepare for and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate.

The bill also provides that the DDR shall oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, and activities.

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.

Another author, Quezon City Rep, Alfred Vargas, said that with the ever present threats of natural disasters and climate change like  cyclones, El Niño, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, now is the time to have a  DDR.

Vargas said this measure  will 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.

Vargas also pointed out that the bill provides for the creation of the National Disaster Resilience Council (NDRC) which shall be the policy advisory to the DDR on disaster risk reduction and management, and climate change adaptation. It shall be headed by the Secretary of Disaster Resilience and composed of the heads of the different government agencies.

The solon expressed gratitude to House members for expediting the passage of the measure.

Vargas also thanked the leadership of Speaker Arroyo for advocating and prioritizing the creation of  DDR.

“The DDR is envisioned to be an empowered, receptive, and responsive government agency with a clear vision of addressing the needs of the Filipinos in times of calamities,” he said.