More and more institutions and groups have joined the mounting calls for the Senate to speed up the enactment of the pending Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Act, deemed as the country’s coherent blueprint for survival against natural calamities brought about by climate change and even pandemics.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Ways and Means Committee chair, who steered the bill’s approval in the House said the DDR will be the primary agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and mitigate disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction.”
Salceda, the measure’s principal author, said the latest to join the intensifying crescendo for the DDR creation, among others, are the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI), Greenpeace Philippines, and the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD). They stressed the need for the government to implement urgent policy action to address the disaster and climate emergency in the Philippines.
The groups, he said, have partnered with the House to amplify the call for the bill’s passage and “ensure that the current and future generations of Filipinos will survive the projected accelerating impacts of climate change and disasters.”
Last month, the House Committee on Disaster Resilience approved House Resolution No. 535 authored by Salceda, declaring a disaster and climate emergency in the country, referred to as the “necessary first of many steps” for a whole-of-government, whole-of-society and whole-of-nation policy response as the Philippines faces a disaster and climate emergency.
The resolution points out that despite having established national agencies such as the Climate Change Commission and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, the country continues to grapple with institutional issues on climate and disaster governance.
In addition, the UPRI, Greenpeace and LCCAD also advocate several policy actions to address the country’s disaster and climate emergency such as declaring 2020 as a Disaster and Climate Emergency awareness year, raise awareness on the salient features of the DDR bill, and to call for international humanitarian assistance following the recent calamities that struck the country.
The groups they will also join local government units in their call for support for vulnerable communities to help them adapt and develop resilience to climate change and disaster-related impacts.
In a recent online forum, UPRI Executive Director Mahar Lagmay stressed the importance of planning to prepare for present and future hazards amplified by climate change. “Scientific planning across various sectors of society is one of the most effective tools to mitigate the harsh impacts of natural hazards. When combined with education and awareness-building to embed a culture of safety, it becomes the real early action measure in a people-centered early warning system,” he explained.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Naderev Saño said genuine disaster and climate resilience goes beyond mere survival and preparation. and the public should stop equating “climate resiliency” with highly vulnerable communities and sectors hoping to simply try and survive the impacts of climate emergencies.
“We need coherent strategies rooted in clear and immediately implementable policies that protect people and the environment, and ensure that those least responsible for emissions and yet suffe the worst impacts are finally granted climate justice and a better future,” Saño added.
The climate change group LCCAD in a recent statement, said these policy actions, the DDR passage and the declaration of disaster and climate change emergency, are the key to further enhancing the country’s disaster-climate resilience action such as climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and activities.
In the Senate, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has also reiterated his call for the creation of the DDR, and while current mechanisms are in place, policy makers must be open to improving these further to ensure that the government becomes more responsive to the changing times.
Go authored the Senate DDR version, He said the measure shall provide a clearer chain of command, more responsive mechanisms and a more holistic, proactive approach in handling crisis situations in the country where natural disasters are already “normal occurrences.”
Go’s call supports an earlier statement by House Speaker Lord Alan Velasco urging the Senate to pass the DDR bill: “We earnestly urge our counterparts in the Senate to pass their own version so we can subsequently work on the enrolled bill…” that would allow us “to be constantly prepared and well-equipped when natural disasters occur…. enable other departments to put all their focus and efforts in helping the country recover from Covid-19.”