Cebu News

Proposed new department to affect disaster fund

Gregg M. Rubio - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The calamity fund of each Local Government Unit is being eyed by the members of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety to fund the creation of the Department of Public Safety in every LGU.

Deputy Speaker for the Visayas Gwendolyn Garcia said that the committee members have been discussing the funding component of the proposed bill co-authored by fourth district Rep. Benhur Salimbangon.

House Bill No. 6 seeks to create a DPS in every province, city and municipality to improve the capability of LGUs to meet the demand for greater safety and security, better traffic management, and enhanced disaster preparedness and response.

Garcia, former Cebu Governor, said the funding proposal for the DPS will surely affect the budget of each LGU.

The League of Provinces represented by its Executive Director Sandy Paredes said that although they fully support the bill, their only apprehension is the funding of the establishment of the new department.

"This is exactly what I expected to hear from the local governments. Perhaps, a proper amendment could be done particularly of Section 5 of the bill which is about the DPS funding. The DPS that we will be creating could be passed if we can consider using the calamity funds of each LGU since the funding cannot be a continuing appropriation," said Garcia.

The bill provides for the creation of a DPS in every province, city and municipality to be under the direct control and supervision of the provincial governor, city or municipal mayor.

The DPS will implement public order and safety laws and ordinances, help reduce vehicular traffic congestion and address the effects of man-made and natural disasters.

Lawmakers consider Section 5 of the proposed bill to be very contentious because it provides that "the amount necessary for the initial implementation of the Act shall be charged against the current appropriations of LGUs. Thereafter, such sum as may be necessary for continued implementation shall be included in the annual budget of the LGUs."

The House Committee on Local Government is also set to tackle the bill since the creation of the new department will amend the provisions of the Local Government Code and affect the budget of LGUs.

Among the DPS powers and functions under the bill are: Prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects and activities of the local government relative to the promotion and maintenance of peace and order and the protection of life, liberty and property; Secure the general public and maintain public order in conjunction with the police and other national law enforcement agencies; Augment auxiliary traffic services and support other agencies tasked to enforce traffic management; Issue temporary terminal permits to public utility vehicles and manage public utility vehicle terminals; Monitor and supervise private security agencies and security guards and issue their security clearances and business or work permits; Issue traffic clearance certificates to business establishments; Clear sidewalks, public parks and other public areas of obstructions; and Organize plans for and undertake evacuation, rescue and relief operations in times of disasters, calamities and civil disturbances. (FREEMAN)

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