MANILA --Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has urged the Senate to pass its version of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill before Congress ends it session in May following the disasters brought about by the current El Niño phenomenon and the spate of strong earthquakes that hit parts of the country.
Salceda, original proponent of the DDR bill (HB 6075), said the urgency to enact the bill is felt even more pressing by the people these days.
The proposed measure now commands more priority over other similarly urgent concerns because it spells the country’s survival, he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte repeatedly called for enactment of the DDR bill, one of the most urgent legislations of his administration.
Recently, the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office said prompt action on the DDR bill in the remaining session days may face hitches because the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Climate Change has remained vacant following the resignation of Senator Loren Legarda who now seeks a local post.
To address the issue, Salceda has appealed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III to designate a new chair for the committee, if only to pass the DDR bill, considering its urgency.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 6075 in October last year in response to President Duterte’s call for a separate department tasked to reduce risks, respond to disaster impacts and manage post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.
HB 6075 proposes the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience as the primary state agency to lead, manage, and coordinate national initiatives to prevent, mitigate risks, prepare for and respond to disasters, spearhead recovery and rehabilitation, and build on forward.
Following the recent successive earthquakes that hit Luzon. Eastern Visayas, Zambales and Davao area, the Senate leadership said, in uncertain terms, it “would do its best to pass” its DDR version before the sessions end.
At least 16 persons died, 86 injured, and 14 missing in the Luzon earthquake that affected at least 24 cities and towns in Pampanga, Bulacan, Zambales, and Metro Manila, among others.
The temblor also hit Clark International Airport and affected the LRT and MRT lines in Metro Manila, the operations of which were temporarily halted, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers.
The proposed DDR, Salceda said, fulfils President Duterte’s vision of an agency with “unity of command, science-based approach and full-time focus for natural hazards and even human-induced disasters, with a "Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Nation" approach.”
He said the DDR will be a fully-functioning executive department headed by a cabinet secretary, supported by undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors with the Office of Civil Defense serving as its core component.
It will be tasked to oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, projects and activities, provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation.
The DDR is also tasked to conduct anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques, and options, and augment the capacity of local governments units in carrying out disaster risk reduction and management and climate change action plan, programs, projects, and activities, in collaboration with relevant national government agencies and other stakeholders.
The bill amends Republic Act 10121, which essentially leaves to LGUs the primary responsibilities in disaster risks reduction (DRR). Given the increasing intensity and complexity of disaster risks, aggravated by rapid urbanization, however, LGU capacity is being overwhelmed. Super typhoon Yolanda dramatically demonstrated this lesson, said Salceda.
The DDR proposal allows proper funding schemes from both national and local government bodies to attain disaster resilience.
The new National Disaster Resilience Fund, formerly known as National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, was proportioned into 80:20 ratio, with 20 percent for quick response or stand-by fund while the 80 percent can be utilized for climate change adaptation, disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and mitigation, disaster risk transfer, disaster preparedness, recovery, and rehabilitation. (Johnny C. Nunez/PNA)