Leaders of the House of Representatives cheered Thursday (Sept. 17) at the Lower Chamber’s second reading approval of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) that would lead the national effort on disasters’ response.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and TINGOG Sinirangan party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez expressed hope that House Bill No. 5989 or the proposed “Disaster Resilience Act” will finally hurdle the Lower Chamber, saying that its passage has long been overdue.
“A new Department of Disaster Resilience will effectively improve the institutional capacity of the government for disaster risk reduction and management, reduce the vulnerabilities surrounding the affected local population as well as build the resilience of local communities to both natural disasters and climate change,” they said.
The Romualdez couple said proposed creation of the DDR “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.”
Last Tuesday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved HB No. 5989 through voice voting.
“Guaranteeing disaster resiliency through closer coordination and stronger management synchronization at all levels of the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system cannot be delayed any further,” the Romualdezes said.
Batangas Rep. Mario Vittorio Mariño, chairperson of the House Committee on Government Reorganization, sponsored the DDR bill.
Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the bill, said through the DDR, the government can “mitigate the human and socioeconomic costs” of the disasters, particularly the typhoons visiting the country every year.
“We can no longer deny the fact that climate change is real, that we are a volcanically and tectonically active country, and that we face several typhoons each year. Disasters are a fact of Philippine life,” he said.
“DDR will help ensure that we have a full-time agency in charge of keeping us strong and ready for disasters,” Salceda pointed out.
HB No. 5989 provides that the DDR would absorb the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau and the National Resource and Logistics Management Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), their personnel and their funds.
The disaster risk reduction and management functions, assets, personnel of the OCD currently under the DND shall be transferred to the new Department, and the civil defense functions shall remain with the Department of National Defense (DND), the bill provides.
The DDR measure calls for the abolition of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The DDR is mandated “to oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, projects and activities: and provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation.”
The bill calls for the creation of a Disaster Resilience Fund to ensure the implementation of the proposed Act.
Under the bill, the current fiscal year’s unexpended and unobligated appropriations of all agencies absorbed, transferred and attached to the new Department shall fund the initial implementation of the proposed Act.
It provides that the DDR, Department of Budget and Management, Department of National Defense, Department of Finance, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, National Economic Development Authority, House and Senate Committees on Government Reorganization, as well as representatives from the academe and business sectors shall craft and promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.