‘We need disaster Department

With El Niño starting to ravage the countryside, solons are pressing creation of Department of Disaster Resilience.

AMID the onslaught of El Niño, Tingog Sinirangan party-list 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 poll.

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

“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.

Joining Romualdez, 1-PACMAN party-list Rep. Mikee appealed to President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to certify as urgent the passage of the DDR measure.

“To complement Malacañang’s efforts, we in Congress already have several bills, including House Bill (HB) No. 8165 creating the Department of Disaster Resilience. I hope HB No. 8165 can be certified as urgent so the new Department of Disaster Resilience can take the lead in addressing the water crisis aggravated by the ongoing El Niño drought,” said Romero.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, another principal author of the DDR bill, also joined Romualdez in making an appeal 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.

Earlier, Romualdez underscored the need to study the possibility of extending loans to the troubled farmers as an act of “malasakit” (compassion) for their plight.

She also underscored the need to look into possible energy shortage, especially if there will be a significant drop in the water supply in major dams in Luzon, including Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan.

At the same time, Romualdez urged the concerned officials to determine if there is a need for possible cloud seeding operations in places affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

The Leyte congresswoman said the national and local governments should work double time and united to mitigate the impact of El Niño and damages to the agriculture sector.

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 congressman.