Officials not keen on disaster resilience department
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Government officials are not keen on a proposal to create a new department of disaster resilience that will handle the preparation, prevention mitigation response and rehabilitation in disaster-stricken areas.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Eduardo del Rosario suggested that the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) be reinforced instead to be able to handle disaster management.

Del Rosario is a former NDRRMC chief.

Jalad said having a single department that handles all the functions on risk reduction and preparations, prevention mitigation response and rehabilitation recovery is overwhelming. 

“Do we need a department for disaster risk reduction and management? We might encounter problems with the capacity of the department function responsibility across all the thematic areas of preparations, prevention mitigation response and rehabilitation in disaster-stricken areas,” Jalad told the Senate committee on national defense chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson Monday.

Jalad said even developed countries do not have a department on disaster risk reduction and management.

He said what these countries have is an emergency management agency, which consolidates all efforts regarding emergency response.

President Duterte earlier urged Congress to create a department of disaster risk reduction and management.

A majority of areas in Mindanao, including Davao, are still reeling from the devastation caused by three recent strong earthquakes.

Del Rosario urged the Senate to reinforce the OCD instead of creating a new department that would still not address the needed preparation and mitigation done by other agencies.

“So I think what we need is to reinforce the Office of the Civil Defense so it can be more adoptive to response and rehabilitation aspects given the budget that would capacitate the office to implement the rehabilitation projects,” Del Rosario said.

Lacson said the vicious cycle continues as the country has barely recovered from one disaster when another strikes again.

He noted that five years after Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 was enacted, a report indicated that the government’s response and recovery efforts in Yolanda-ravaged areas were yet to be completed.

The report was prepared by the Commission on Audit in 2015. 

When asked by Sen. Francis Tolentino whether his position is contrary to that of Duterte’s call to create a new department of disaster, Del Rosario said the OCD could be removed from the national department and transformed into a department to be led by a secretary.

Senators are pushing for the passage of the department of disaster bill, among them Migz Zubiri and Bong Go.

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