LEYTE Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez yesterday said the passage of a consolidated bill seeking
to create a new department that would exclusively focus on disaster response will help expedite the
massive and well-organized reconstruction of Marawi City.
Romualdez, one of the authors of 43 pending measures on the creation of disaster management
department and related bills that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte requested to be passed during his
last State of the Nation Address (SoNA), said the mandate of the proposed department will include
rehabilitation of destructed areas caused by war and terrorism.
“The mandate of the proposed department also covers rebuilding of areas ruined by armed
conflict and terrorism like what had happened in Marawi City, which bore the brunt of the months-long
siege by Islamic State-inspired terrorists,” said Romualdez, adding that the reconstruction of areas
affected by the Zamboanga City siege is also covered by the mandate of the proposed new department.
She is the author of House Bill 344, which seeks to create the Department of Disaster
Preparedness and Emergency Management (DDPEM) to be headed by the secretary of the Department of
National Defense (DND).
Romualdez said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is not
enough to address the various concerns during calamities.
“The Philippines cannot continue to have a disaster organization that only has coordinative
functions given the country’s too much exposure to disasters,” she said.
She pointed out that adaptation is the duty of the state because it is the poor that bears the
brunt of climate impacts and natural disasters. The most vulnerable are also the least capable of
protection and those who have more in risks also have less in resources.
HB 344 was originally advocated by Romualdez’s husband, Philippine Constitution Association
(Philconsa) president Martin Romualdez, a former House Independent Bloc leader and ex-three-term Leyte
Agreeing with Romualdez that climate change is considered a national security risk, Camarines
Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte filed HB 6131 seeking to create a Department of Climate Change (DCC) that
will harmonize and strengthen all national disaster risk reduction efforts in the Philippines, which
has been described by the international media as “ground zero for climate disaster.”
“Climate change and disaster risk reduction and management are closely interrelated and an
effective DRRM will enhance adaptive capacity to climate change, climate variability and extreme
climate events,” said Villafuerte, adding that climate change “endangers public safety and threatens
the sustainability of the country’s food supply and economic stability.”
Villafuerte said his proposal aims to integrate the Climate Change Commission (CCC), National
Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, People’s Survival Fund (PSF), Yolanda Recovery and
Rehabilitation Efforts, and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist Rep. Jericho Nograles said the death of two of the
country’s most notorious terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Omar Maute of
the Maute Group should now jumpstart the reconstruction of Marawi City.
Nograles said with the expected outpouring of financial aid to support the reconstruction of
Marawi City, there is a need to establish a single but well-organized government body, fully backed by
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which would manage the funds for the reconstruction of the city.
“Now it’s time to start picking up the pieces and start the rebuilding and healing of Marawi
City,” Western Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works and Highways hopes to finish its site development of
transitory shelters road network for Marawi evacuees by next month.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said they have already conducted an aerial and on-the-ground
inspection of Marawi City and are now working on timely completion of site development works, where the
first batch of transitory houses for Marawi siege evacuees will be built.
“The area being developed by the DPWH in Bgy. Sagongsongan, Marawi City can accommodate 1,100
families. We are doing everything we can to finish it by November. Currently, we are preparing a
portion of the site where the National Housing Authority can build a total of 275 transitory houses,”
“Once the sites are developed, NHA may begin the construction stage of the needed transitory
shelters of Marawi siege internally-displaced persons,” he added. With Lee Ann Ducusin