Dep't of disaster bill okay assured

SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano assured the public of the passage of a measure creating  the Department of Disaster Resilience.

In a statement, Cayetano said this bill will also be a top priority of the House of Representatives aside from the Bayanihan 2 and 2021 national budget.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte underscored the need to have this department whose main purpose is to address and plan programs to mitigate effects of natural disaster and calamities.

According to Cayetano, while the government is now focused on its fight against coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to  prepare for the inevitable natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes.

During his 5th State of Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte  urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the DRR bill swiftly, pointing out the impact of natural disasters as “poverty creators.”

Cayetano underscored the need to manage the “dual disaster” of natural disasters and poverty in an integrated, systematic, and cohesive manner.

“As much as we wish for the opposite, this pandemic could not be the last calamity that our country will face, so we need to fast track the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience,” he said.

Since 2013, Cayetano has been advocating for the creation of a focused, single-minded, and specialized department that would bolster government’s programs on disaster response, resilience, and management.  

House Bill 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) which will solely focus on disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Cayetano, who is a principal author of the bill, reiterated his challenge to his colleagues to come up with long-lasting solutions, programs, and mechanisms to address calamities.

He particularly cited the need to speed up rehabilitative efforts after every disaster.

The bill is currently pending in the House plenary for deliberations.

Under the proposed Disaster Resilience Act, all localities must have a permanent evacuation center that must conform with the standards under the United Nations Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.

The DDR will be the principal government institution responsible for ensuring safe, adaptive, and disaster resilient communities. It is mandated to provide a clear and comprehensive direction in the implementation of plans, programs, and projects to reduce the risk of natural hazards and the effects of climate change and manage the impact of disasters.