‘Unpredictable disasters require greater preparedness’
(The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Unpredictable disasters like the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano demand unity of command and greater preparation, according to a lawmaker in pushing for his pet bill.

Such scenarios are what the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) is designed to address, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

The bill, approved by the House last year and now pending in the Senate, was being opposed by some sectors because of a provision which places the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) under the DDR. The two agencies are under the Department of Science and Technology.

Salceda said the events that followed the twin earthquakes in Tulunan, Cotabato on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 showed the lack of preparedness among all concerned agencies.

Numerous dysfunctional responses were also noted such as call center agents rushing down to the ground floor of buildings from their 6th floor workstation, he added.

“Diffused somehow, discoordinated assistance responses by state actors clearly require continuous information, education and communications of risk assessments and scenario projections which can best be built into the DDR framework,” he said. “Among others, we need Phivolcs for risk assessment, vulnerability reduction and integrated response.”

He said DDR’s goal is zero casualty in times of disaster, stressing this is not just statistics. “It is a body of commitment that ensures nobody falls by the wayside due to poverty, exposure, or even stubbornness. It can best be served by continuous training and preparation of the populace to attain a culture of resilience,” he added.

The proposed DDR will be headed by a secretary and supported by undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors and is tasked to lead in the continuous development of strategic, holistic and systematic approaches to disaster management, including preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery and rehabilitation, and anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques and options.

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