House leaders confident 18th Congress will pass bill creating disaster resilience agency

Published September 15, 2019, 4:46 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Leaders of the House of Representatives assured on Sunday that bills proposing the creation of Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) would hurdle this 18th Congress.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, who are principal authors of the bill, cast no doubt on the Lower Chamber’s commitment to pass the DDR measure.

“A new Department of Disaster Resilience will effectively improve the institutional capacity of the government for disaster risk reduction and management, reduce the vulnerabilities surrounding the affected local population as well as build the resilience of local communities to both natural disasters and climate change,” they said.

“Guaranteeing disaster resiliency through closer coordination and stronger management synchronization at all levels of the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system cannot be delayed any further,” they stressed.

The Romualdezes filed House Bill 1151 aiming to create DDR.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, who also authored the measure, gave the assurance that the Lower Chamber would prioritize the passage of the DDR bill.

He said the government’s response to calamities and disasters should be coherent, noting an average of 20 tropical cyclones visit the Philippines every year.

“We have to pass the DDR with dispatch to effectively respond with the disasters without delays,” he said.

For his part, Ako Bisaya party-list Rep. Sonny Lagon said the creation of the DDR would help address the bureaucratic red tape that has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by disaster and calamity victims.

“The House leadership is committed to pass all pending bills aimed at creating a government agency that would specifically deal with disasters and other calamities in the country,” he said.

“This is also the President’s commitment for the public to ensure their safety,” Lagon said.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, insisted that DDR is needed to provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

“This bill seeks to ensure the safety and welfare of both present and future generations of Filipinos, and establish a strong Department and more inclusive climate change adaptation, disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management policies so that the needs of those who are most at-risk will be met, ” Salceda said in filing House Bill 30.

In his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte asked Congress to pass a law creating the DDR that would oversee the government’s efforts on disaster prevention, relief work, and climate resilience.