SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go aims to consolidate and improve all government efforts to handle disasters and filed a bill that seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
With one of his first bills that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, Go is eyeing to have an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.
The department shall concentrate on three key result areas namely disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.
“Sa pagpapatayo ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan, mas maibsan ang masamang epekto ng kalamidad para mas mabilis makabangon ang ating mga kababayan pagkatapos ng mga di inaasahang sakuna,” Go said.
Go has seen the plight of ordinary Filipinos during his visits to communities victimized by fire incidents and natural calamities.
“Kasama sa proseso ng paggawa ng mga batas ang pagbisita ko sa mga komunidad. Dito ko nakikita ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga tao at dito rin namin nalalaman kung ano ang kanilang mga hinaing na dapat aksyunan ng gobyerno ora mismo,” Go said.
The bill is intended to repeal the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC) and mandated the Office of Civil Defense, an organization within the Department of National Defense, to be the council’s secretariat and coordinating arm.
Disaster-related responsibilities are currently shared among various government agencies.
The bill states the DDR will be assigned to “be primarily responsible for ensuring safe, adaptive, and disaster-resilient communities.”
Go was prompted to file the bill because “the Philippines’ experiences with natural disasters have shown the existing laws, policies, resources, and institutional arrangements governing disaster management lacked responsiveness to the country’s requirements for disaster resilience.”
In an interview after he filed the bill, Go bared he was hoping efforts in improving disaster resilience in the country would also lead to construction of better evacuation centers. “Marami pong nangyayaring mga bagyo sa atin, mga lindol, at minsan po talaga wala tayong maayos na evacuation center at coordination,” he said.
Go also recalled an accident that occurred when a typhoon hit the country. “May pinuntahan ako sa Mountain Province. Mismong ang tinulugan ng mga biktima ang gumuho. Hindi safe ang evacuation center na pinaglagyan sa kanila.
“Panahon na para magkaroon tayo ng mga evacuation center na maayos, malinis, at safe hanggang makauwi ang mga biktima sa kanilang mga tirahan.”
Go’s bill also introduces a system of classification on the levels of the needed preparedness and response and who is responsible for each level, from the municipal or city mayor to the secretary of the DDR.
The DDR will also focus on natural disasters only. Currently, NDDRMC responds even to human-induced disasters. The bill states that the two kinds of disasters require different approaches, and the DDR must have “a highly specialized set of personnel, resources and policies to bring about disaster resilience.”