House committees approve Department of Disaster Resilience bill

National, News

The House committees on Government Reorganization, and Defense and Security   in joint session on Wednesday, unanimously passed the draft proposal creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), on orders of newly installed House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

 The approval took place just two days after President Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA), where he reiterated the country’s urgent need for such an agency, according to Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, author of the DDR proposal in the lower house. Arroyo ordered the two committees   to convene, approve the draft proposal and endorse it for the House   plenary , following her election to the speakership, immediately after the 2018 SONA.

Duterte has repeatedly underscored the urgency for the creation of a department level disaster management agency, a version of which he had   approved in his recent regular cabinet meeting.DDR has become one of the President’s priority agenda items. He had first tossed its idea to Congress in his 2017 SONA.

Salceda said passing the DDR bill, HB 6075, in the lower house would now be easier with Arroyo as Speaker, since she is familiar with such legislations, having approved, during her Presidency, Republic Act 10121 in 2010, the law which sought to “strengthen the Philippine disaster risk reduction and management system.”

A noted economist and pioneer of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the country, Salceda submitted his DDR bill immediately following Duterte’s 2017 SONA, in answer to the President’s first urgent call. He headed the technical working group that consolidated, 43 other related proposals with his own.

His proposed DDR will be tasked to “develop, implement, manage and oversee a broad climate-disaster program of governance” to help Filipinos cope with disastrous calamities and ensure the country’s sustained and inclusive economic growth. It seeks to amend RA 10121, and create a department level agency that will be more effective in confronting disasters through “strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and efficient programs on rehabilitation and recovery.”

The President, Salceda said, acknowledges that a strong and effective disaster management agency is “essential to a sensible economic blueprint and since disastrous typhoons have been noted to be getting stronger and broader in impact in recent years, the creation of the DDR is an urgent agenda.”

With an initial P10-billion budget, the DDR will be “tasked to carry out a continuous, consistent and fortified calamity defense program and ensure the country’s sustainable development and inclusive growth.”  Salceda explained DDR “will be accountable and responsible for overseeing, coordinating and implementing comprehensive disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management programs and redirecting policy drifts among other agencies handling disaster response tasks.”

DDR will take over from DRRMC and will take under it the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) now under the Department of Science and Technology; DENR’s Geoscience Bureau, and DILG’s Bureau of Fire Protection.

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