Senate pressed on disaster department

Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez

TINGOG first nominee Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez yesterday renewed her appeal for the Senate to pass the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) when session resumes  on May 20 after the midterm polls in the wake of the two strong earthquakes that recently rocked the country.

Romualdez, congresswoman of the First District of Leyte and chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts, underscored the importance of approving the measure before closing the 17th Congress this June.

“The earthquakes and aftershocks we have been experiencing recently should prompt us to work for the approval of the Department of Disaster Resilience,” said Romualdez.

“I believe we still have time to work on the approval of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience. I am appealing again to our good senators to consider fast tracking the passage of the DDR bill as this 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,” said Romualdez, one of the principal sponsors of the DDR measure that the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last year.

She also lauded Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for immediately personally attending to the concerns of earthquake victims in the badly hit areas of Pampanga and ensuring that everything will return to normalcy as soon as possible following the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck parts of Luzon Monday afternoon.

Last Tuesday, a magnitude 6.5 quake rocked San Julian, Eastern Samar and was also felt in several towns in Eastern Visayas.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, another principal author of the DDR bill, also joined Romualdez in appealing for “the Senate to act with a similar sense of urgency in approving its version that will better equip government to deal with year-round natural calamities made worse by climate change.”

“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,” said Villafuerte.

The DDR guarantees a unity of command, science-based approach, and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters.

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.

Romualdez is the wife of former House Independent Bloc Leader and ex-Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, president of both the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), who is running for Leyte district congressman.