SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano has renewed his call to the members of the 18th Congress to fast-track the passage of the bill that will create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“While our government is now focused on its fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we also have to be prepared to respond to inevitable natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes,” Cayetano said.
The Speaker’s call came after President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), 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 the creation of a focused, single-minded, and specialized department that would bolster government’s programs on disaster response, resilience, and management.
House Bill (HB) No. 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.
“Basically, sa disaster response, ang gusto nating ma-achieve sa Congress ay hindi lang maging reactionary ang government, kundi proactive,” he said.
Cayetano said the DDR will act as the focal agency that will bring relevant agencies, local government units, and non-government units together in crafting a national contingency plan.
“We have to build back better. Whatever it is that we are going to construct or reconstruct, we must ensure it would be more adaptive to the dynamic needs of the people and are structurally stronger and more strategic,” he said.
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.
According to the bill, the Department will cover all natural hazards, which include the following: a) Geological Phenomena and related hazards such as earthquake, volcanic activity, and mass movement b) Hydrological, Oceanographic and Meteorological Phenomena and Related Hazards c) Climate Variability/Change with related hazards such as El Nino/El Nina and extreme rainfall and temperature.