By Charissa Luci-Atienza
As earthquake struck different parts of the country, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman cited Wednesday the need for Congress to urgently pass a bill seeking the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
The chairperson of the House Committee on Disaster Management said the House of Representatives already did its part in approving House Bill 8165.
“I strongly advocate for the speedy passage of House Bill 8165 – the Bill Creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). This bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, states, among others, that the DDR shall provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation. There is no need to further explain why we need this Department now,” Roman said.
The Senate has yet to pass its own version of the bill.
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte earlier appealed to the Upper Chamber to prioritize the approval of the DDR bill.
Under the bill, the DDR shall serve as “the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for, and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters.”
It is tasked to augment the capacity of local government units (LGUs) in collaboration with relevant national agencies and other stakeholders in implementing disaster risk reduction and management and climate change action plans, programs, projects and activities.
Last year, a total of 181 congressmen voted for House Bill 8165, five voted against it while two others abstained.
Roman also appealed to all government departments, offices and officials concerned to conduct inspections in all affected areas without any delay.
“There is an immediate need to check in particular old buildings, roads, and other constructions for any cracks, damage or the like so that people will be warned and renovations may be conducted,” she said.
“The experiences of the last two days should serve as a wake-up call to all building contractors to make sure that structures are safe for the public,” she added.
Roman also called on the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology ( PHIVOLCS) to regularly update the public about its seismic assessments.
“Fake news on disaster matters will be avoided if people get official bulletins from PHIVOLCS, the National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council (NDRRMC), and the local DRRMCs. An educated citizenry is a necessity in case a disaster strikes,” she said, even as she cited the need for all government offices to conduct earthquake drills and disaster preparedness seminars immediately.