NDRRMC head cites overlapping functions of proposed disaster resilience dept, gov’t agencies

Published September 26, 2020, 4:34 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

There are some overlapping of functions between existing government agencies and the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), according to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Ricardo Jalad.

Once passed into law, Jalad said the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of House Bill No. 5989 should address this issue so as not to “weaken” the country’s disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) capabilities. 

“Nakikita ko dyan talagang may empowerment ng isang departmento o organisasyon na mamahala ng ating disaster risk reduction and management. Maraming power, maraming functions pero kasama rin dyan ‘yong accountability (I can see that there will really be an empowerment of a department or organization to supervise our disaster risk reduction and management efforts. There will be a lot of power, a lot of functions but included there is the accountability),” said Jalad, who is also the concurrent administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), in a radio interview over DZBB on Saturday. 

“Doon sa empowerment o pagbibigay ng iba’t-ibang functions, sa ngayon ay nandyan na sa iba’t ibang ahensya o departamento rin kaya nakikita natin na may overlap. Kailangan lang maayos na magawa ‘yong implementing rules and regulation nito para ma-address ‘yong overlap at wala tayong maiwanan na gap (In the empowerment or assigning of various functions, it is now being done by different agencies or departments so we see that there will really be an overlap. That’s why the implementing rules and regulations should be properly crafted to address the overlap and avoid any gap),” he added.

Among the overlap in functions observed by Jalad are the rehabilitation and recovery, and prevention and mitigation programs being conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) when a calamity or disaster strikes.

“The implementation of the rehabilitation and recovery, and even the prevention and mitigation programs of the DPWH and NHA can be conducted by the DRR but these are not removed from the affected departments or agencies,” Jalad explained in Pilipino.

“So we really need to carefully craft the IRR to ensure that [the DDR] will really strengthen our disaster risk reduction and management capability, and not weaken it,” he said in Pilipino.

Jalad said that under HB 5989, the fund of the NDRRMC will become the National Disaster Resilience Fund which will be managed and controlled by the DDR.

“Mayroon din sinasabi na transition period na gagampanan ng OCD and from there ang mga kawani ay maaaring mag-apply ng retirement, separation o resignation or they can apply sa position at the DDR (There will also be a transition period where the OCD will take over and from there, the personnel may apply for a retirement, separation, resignation or apply a position at the DDR),” he said.

Meanwhile, the support role or function of other government agencies, such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Philippine Coast Guard in search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) operations in case of a disaster will be retained, he added.

“Ang importante ‘yong forecasting, monitoring and advisories related to natural hazards. Hindi sila part ng DDR so dapat ma-adopt ito at ang iba pang warning agencies ay inaasahan na gagampanan pa rin nila ang kanilang mandato (What’s important is the forecasting, monitoring and [issuance of] advisories related to natural hazards. They will not form part of the DDR so it needs to be adopted, and we expect that the different warning agencies will still fulfill their respective mandate),” Jala concluded. 

The House bill, which was passed on third and final reading last September 21, seeks to create the DDR which will be the country’s primary government agency for “leading, organizing, and managing national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters.”

Among the duties and functions of the proposed department are the enforcement of preemptive evacuation; imposition of curfew; rationing of the distribution of basic goods in critical shortage; temporary take over or direction of operation of any private utility or business, subject to payment of just compensation, when there is imminent danger of loss of lives or damage to property; and recommending to the Monetary Board the deferment of payment of monetary obligations of local government units and private entities that have been affected by a disaster, with the concurrence of the finance department.