MANILA — Albay Representative Joey Sarte Salceda has filed House Bill 6075 proposing the creation of an independent Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to fortify the country’s calamity defense program and help ensure the country’s development and inclusive growth.
The proposed DDR will exclusively handle the encompassing tasks of disaster risk reduction, response, reconstruction, and recovery. It will have an initial budget of PHP10 billion and will be solely accountable and responsible for overseeing, coordinating and implementing a comprehensive disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management program and finally redirect existing policy drifts among agencies handling these tasks.
Salceda said DRR is the answer to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s call in his July 24 SONA, for “both houses of Congress to expeditiously craft a law establishing a new authority or department that will be effectively responsive to contemporary disaster realities, and empowered to best deliver [an] enhanced disaster resiliency and quick disaster response.”
The proposed agency, he said, will be equipped with the necessary resources and competency to engage new actors, particularly in risk transfer and insurance, built with the necessary structure to manage broader climate-disaster governance arrangements, and will spearhead the continuous development of a massive “strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation,” involving all sectors from the national government down to individual families in communities.
Salceda said the DDR should ideally take in at least four government entities critical to an effective disaster planning and operation — the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs under the Department of Science and Technology; the Geoscience Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and, the Bureau of Fire Protection under DILG. The idea is akin to US Department of Homeland Security that placed under its operational control major federal agencies to effectively confront security threats in many areas.
The DRR bill seeks to amend the eight-year old RA 10121, a landmark legislation but which falls short in creating “an institution that is sufficiently in a high position to oversee the implementation of streamlined disaster risk reduction and management policies nationwide, and has the necessary authority, mandate and resources to lead and coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders towards a more resilient nation.”
As envisioned, the DRR will be separate from the Office of Civil Defense, which will continue to perform its original mandate particularly its duty to administer a comprehensive national civil defense and civil assistance program, training of community volunteers for civil defense and assistance, and other mechanisms for community preparedness.
Salceda said HB 6075 is a result of “action research, sharing of experiences and dynamic discussions among various stakeholders from national and local government agencies, organizations and communities and is a product of comparable international experiences.”
It is designed to “put an end to ‘policy drifts’ and disagreements in the program of reducing the impacts of climate change that can lead to more serious consequences and expensive damages in terms of loss of lives and properties.”
He noted that Super Typhoon Yolanda which hit the country in November 2013 and took nearly 10,000 lives, destroyed billions of pesos of livelihoods and economic assets in one swoop, and other large-scale disasters exposed problems in planning, coordinating and implementing large-scale disaster risk reduction and management efforts, rooted primarily in the nature of our governance framework for disaster risk reduction and management.
A Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) pioneer in the country, Salceda was former co-chair of the Green Climate Fund of United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and was United Nation’s Senior Global Champion for CCA and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
As governor of calamity prone Albay for three consecutive terms, he popularized the now household by-word ‘Zero Casualty’ goal during disasters. He was also conferred the Bayaning Likas Award by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Albay, his province also earned a Gawad Kalasag Hall of Fame Award niche as Best Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council for three consecutive years.
Among the DDR’s other primary functions are to (1): monitor the integration of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management policies into national development plans; (2) oversee and direct the comprehensive implementation of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management policies, plans and programs; (3) review the Local Disaster Resilience Plan (LDRP) and other local plans to ensure their consistency with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework and Plan;
Fourth is identify, prioritize and localize hazards and risks in consultation with key national government agencies, LGUs and local communities; (5) oversee a national early warning and emergency alert system that will provide accurate and timely advisories to all concerned; (6) deploy rapid assessment teams, promote interoperability, coordinate information-sharing and other disaster risk reduction and management protocols among stakeholders before, during and after disasters; (7) administer, monitor and oversee the utilization of the Department of Disaster Resilience Fund (DDRF) and donations;
Eight, issue special procurement rules for preparedness, response and recovery activities; and (9) establish and monitor local and national capacity for disaster risk financing and insurance and other risk transfer strategies in coordination with DOF and GSIS; (10) Assist in mobilizing resources to enhance the capacity of LGUs in high-risk areas; (11) organize, lead and efficiently manage post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation programs in coordination with affected LGUs and national government agencies, and serve as the clearing house for the participation of international players; and several others.