As typhoon ‘’Quinta’’ unleashed strong winds and heavy rains and left a wide swath of destruction, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go Tuesday urged his fellow lawmakers to act on a bill seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“When I was elected Senator in 2019, I immediately filed Senate Bill (SB) 205 that aims to establish the Department of Disaster Resilience,” Go said.
“Matagal ko nang sinabi ito. Paulit ulit na ako na huwag na nating hintayin magka sakuna na naman bago ipasa ang panukalang magtatatag ng Department of Disaster Resilience (I have been saying this. I have repeated my calls that we should not wait for a calamity to happen before we pass the DDR bill),” he said.
Because of the vulnerability of the country to typhoons and other natural disasters, Go emphasized the need for a more proactive approach when dealing with these phenomena.
“Palagi na lang kung merong kalamidad sa bansa ay kaya napag-uusapan ang pagkakaroon ng DDR. Dapat maging mas proactive tayo at ipasa na ito sa lalong madaling panahon (The proposed creation of a DDR usually crops up whenever there are calamities. We should be proactive and pass this bill soonest),” Go said.
“Madalas pong tamaan ng bagyo, lindol at iba pang kalamidad ang ating bansa. Kailangan na talaga nating i-scale up ang preparedness to resiliency against disasters (Our country is prone to typhoons, earthquakes and other calamities. We should scale up our preparedness to resiliency against disasters),” he added.
A new department with a secretary in charge would ensure more focused government efforts during calamities, he said.
“Napapanahon na din na talagang magkaroon ng sariling departamento na nakatutok talaga at may Secretary-level na timon o overall in-charge tuwing may krisis o sakuna (It is time to have a department with a secretary at the helm during calamities),” he said.
“Kung maitatag ang Department of Disaster Resilience, tunay na magiging laging handa tayo sa anumang krisis o sakuna — mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan, mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng kalamidad at mas mabilis makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan (When DDR is created, we will truly be prepared to face crises or calamities. Government service will be faster, it can lessen the negative effects of calamities, and accelerate rehabilitation efforts),” he said.
Go filed in July last year Senate Bill 205, or the Department of Disaster Resilience Act, which seeks to create an empowered, highly specialized and responsive DDR with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.
The department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.
At present, various government agencies dealing with disaster risk reduction and management are scattered in several departments and offices and the current lead National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is merely a coordinating body.
Go further explained the advantages of his proposed DDR bill, saying that it focuses not just on what the country should do after the disaster, but also before the disaster even strikes.
“The focus is on preparation and resilience,” said Go.
“We should shift our focus from ‘damage control’ to ‘damage mitigation and control’,” he added.
Aside from the DDR bill, Go also filed SB 1228, also known as the Mandatory Evacuation Center Act, which will require every province, city and municipality to construct such centers that will be equipped with emergency packs, medicines and other basic necessities.
Urging the country to learn from past experiences and lessons from the current COVID-19 pandemic, Go said it is high time that the nation scales up its preparedness and resilience against pandemics and natural disasters.