By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Sunday renewed his push for the creation of a separate department that will deal with responsibilities related to natural disasters and calamities, saying even President Duterte was supporting such measure.
Go, who filed his own version of a department of disaster management bill, said the President also wants that he can tap a single Cabinet secretary to manage all tasks related to disaster management and relief and rescue efforts.
Currently, disaster-related responsibilities are being shared by various government agencies, the senator pointed out.
“Sa totoo lang, si Pangulong Duterte, gusto niya talagang magkaroon ng isang point person na mamamahala sa lahat. Dapat magkaroon ng secretary-level na mayroong authority, (In truth, President Duterte really wants to have one point person who will manage everything. There should be one who is given authority in a secretary-level),” Go said.
Go has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 205 or the “Disaster Resilience Act of 2019” which proposes the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience, which he said, would be “an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.”
He said the measure primarily seeks to establish a clear system of responsibility for disaster preparedness and response in all levels of the government, given the increasing number of various disasters and the devastation that they bring.
The bill seeks to rename the existing Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) offices as Local Disaster Resilience Offices. It also seeks to ensure the establishment of a Disaster Resilience Fund to finance the agency’s operations, disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness, response, recovery, rehabilitation and building forward better programs, projects and activities formulated in the national level.
Also under the bill, Go said the National Disaster Operations Center will be established, with its corresponding alternative command and control centers.
Go’s bill also seeks the establishment of a Disaster Resilience Research and Training Institute or DRRTI, which will provide training and to collect, consolidate, manage and share knowledge and information resources to boost disaster resilience.
Go further underscored the importance of having a central authority that will be in charge of disaster preparation, management and mitigation.
He pointed out that the current structure of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) allows it to act as a mere ad hoc inter-agency coordinating body when dealing with disasters.
“Hindi dapat ‘ad hoc’ ang pag-iisip natin pagdating sa kalamidad. ‘Norm’ na sa bansa ang bagyo, lindol, at pati mga active na bulkan (When it comes to calamities, we shouldn’t be thinking of creating just an ‘ad hoc’ committee. It is the ‘norm’ in this country to experience typhoon, earthquakes and even active volcanoes),” Go said.
“More than structural change in the bureaucracy, we are also pushing for a change in mindset and approach. Dapat palaging handa ang gobyerno para maturuan maging handa ang bawat Pilipino, (The government must always be ready to teach Filipinos to be ready),” he stressed.