Sotto vows to prioritize creation of department of disaster resilience

Published November 4, 2019, 1:01 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

There is a “very big chance” that the Senate will pass this year the proposals seeking to create a department of disaster resilience to improve the government’s response to calamities, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday.

Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III gestures after elected as a newly Senate President at Senate Building in Pasay city, May 21,2018.(Czar Dancel)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Sotto declared this as he stressed the urgency for such an agency following the strong earthquakes that hit Mindanao over the past few weeks.

He said it was high time to have a single government department that will focus on mitigating the effects of disasters as well as oversee response and relief operations.

“Mabilis naman siguro mapapasa ngayon yan, sapagkat matagal ng kailangan ito…Sa tingin ko, dahil sa mga nangyayaring sunod-sunod na ito, at alam mo namang disaster prone ang Pilipinas, mabibigyan na ng panahon kahit na dapat talakayin namin ang budget. Malaki ang posibilidad na mapagusapan na ito,” Sotto said in a interview over radio DZMM.

(We could fast track the passage of the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience, because it’s long over due. I think that because of the recent earthquakes, and we know that the Philippines is disaster-prone, we will be able to give time for this while we are tackling the 2020 budget. There is a huge possibility that this will be discussed.)

Sotto said that the Upper Chamber will prioritize the proposed department as “this cannot wait.”

Asked about the chances of its approval on final reading before the Christmas break, Sotto said, “A very big chance, talagang kailangang-kailangan (we really need this). Malaki ang posibilidad, at malaki rin ang posibilidad na mapirmahan ng Presidente ito (There is a big possibility that we will pass this and the President will sign this).”

President Duterte in July asked Congress to pass a law that would create the department of disaster resilience. At the Senate, there are at least five bills on the proposal and other measures seeking for more funds and resources for disaster response and rehabilitation efforts.

Sotto said they seek to maintain an “effective collaboration” among concerned government agencies as well as local government units.

“We are going to institutionalize the National Disaster Coordinating Council,” he said.