Aiming to improve and consolidate all government efforts to handle disasters, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has filed a bill that will create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
The senator said that the bill is eyeing to have an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.
Go explained that the department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s former top aide stressed that he has seen the plight of ordinary Filipinos during his visits to communities victimized by fire incidents and natural calamities, thus, he is pushing for the creation of the department.
Go explained that the bill is intended to repeal the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC) and mandated the Office of Civil Defense, an organization within the Department of National Defense, to be the council’s secretariat and coordinating arm.
Disaster-related responsibilities are currently shared among various government agencies. The bill states that the DDR will be assigned to “be primarily responsible for ensuring safe, adaptive, and disaster-resilient communities.”
Go was prompted to file the bill because “the Philippines’ experiences with natural disasters . . . have shown that the existing laws, policies, resources, and institutional arrangements governing disaster management lacked responsiveness to the country’s requirements for disaster resilience.”
The bill also introduces a system of classification on the levels of the needed preparedness and response and who is responsible for each level, from the municipal or city mayor to the secretary of the DDR.
The DDR will also focus on natural disasters only. Currently, NDDRMC responds even to human-induced disasters. The bill states that the two kinds of disasters require different approaches, and the DDR must have “a highly specialized set of personnel, resources and policies to bring about disaster resilience.”
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