Creating Dept. of Disaster Resilience will be financial burden to gov’t — Lacson

Published November 2, 2020, 10:43 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Monday expressed doubts on the practicality of creating a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) saying the government may find it hard to release funds to set up a new agency.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson (SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Lacson said that while the House of Representatives deems it necessary to push for the creation of a single agency that will help the country mitigate the devastating effects of natural disasters, it will undoubtedly be another financial burden for the government. 

“It is relatively easy to pass a law creating new departments. But would it be feasible, and will there be proper funding for it? The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) says at least P1.5-billion is needed to set up the department,” Lacson said in a statement.

“That does not yet include added salaries, capital outlay like office facilities, furniture, vehicles, MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) and CIF (confidential and intelligence funds),” he added.

Lacson said he believes “a dedicated office under the Office of the President with a Cabinet rank and full authority to mobilize concerned government agencies before, during, and after calamities, both natural and man-made, from policy-making and planning all the way to implementation, would do the job with much less funding and minimum number of staff and personnel.”

“In contrast, a council-type organization like the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has a very limited capability mainly because it is merely coordinative,” he said. 

He added that no less than the stakeholders who served as resource persons cited concerns about creating a new department for disaster and risk reduction during the Senate’s first public hearing last January.

“First, there is a policy direction for right-sizing the bureaucracy that is already bloated. Second, the implementation, especially of recovery and rehabilitation, will be carried out not by the proposed new department but by existing agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Health (DOH). 

“Third, we can see that the newly created departments like the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development  (DHSUD) cannot be properly funded, or at least are not given the appropriate funding to work properly,” he added.

Lacson said the DICT, which for two budget years in a row has been asking for an additional budget to establish and develop the country’s national broadband program and free Wi-Fi services for all government agencies, was only given a paltry sum by the DBM.

He said the DBM only provided P900-million for the national broadband program out of the agency’s request of P18-billion. 

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco had earlier urged the Senate to immediately act on the bill in the wake of Typhoon “Quinta.” According to Velasco, the creation of a DDR will help the country cope with the devastating effects of natural disasters as the Philippines is frequented by typhoons and is vulnerable to earthquakes. 

The House of Representatives has already passed the measure on third and final reading last September.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July, President Duterte pressed Congress to pass the proposed DDR bill to ensure the safety of Filipinos during disasters. 

2PING/edited for online/print isadel

Creating Dept. of Disaster Resilience will be another financial burden to gov’t — Lacson

By Hannah L. Torregoza 

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Monday expressed doubts on the practicality of creating a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) saying the government may find it hard to release funds to set up a new agency.

Lacson said that while the House of Representatives deems it necessary to push for the creation of a single agency that will help the country mitigate the devastating effects of natural disasters, it will undoubtedly be another financial burden for the government. 

“It is relatively easy to pass a law creating new departments. But would it be feasible, and will there be proper funding for it? The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) says at least P1.5-billion is needed to set up the department,” Lacson said in a statement.

“That does not yet include added salaries, capital outlay like office facilities, furniture, vehicles, MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) and CIF (confidential and intelligence funds),” he added.

Lacson said he believes “a dedicated office under the Office of the President with a Cabinet rank and full authority to mobilize concerned government agencies before, during, and after calamities, both natural and man-made, from policy-making and planning all the way to implementation, would do the job with much less funding and minimum number of staff and personnel.”

“In contrast, a council-type organization like the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has a very limited capability mainly because it is merely coordinative,” he said. 

He added that no less than the stakeholders who served as resource persons cited concerns about creating a new department for disaster and risk reduction during the Senate’s first public hearing last January.

“First, there is a policy direction for right-sizing the bureaucracy that is already bloated. Second, the implementation, especially of recovery and rehabilitation, will be carried out not by the proposed new department but by existing agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Health (DOH). 

“Third, we can see that the newly created departments like the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development  (DHSUD) cannot be properly funded, or at least are not given the appropriate funding to work properly,” he added.

Lacson said the DICT, which for two budget years in a row has been asking for an additional budget to establish and develop the country’s national broadband program and free Wi-Fi services for all government agencies, was only given a paltry sum by the DBM.

He said the DBM only provided P900-million for the national broadband program out of the agency’s request of P18-billion. 

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco had earlier urged the Senate to immediately act on the bill in the wake of Typhoon “Quinta.” According to Velasco, the creation of a DDR will help the country cope with the devastating effects of natural disasters as the Philippines is frequented by typhoons and is vulnerable to earthquakes. 

The House of Representatives has already passed the measure on third and final reading last September.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July, President Duterte pressed Congress to pass the proposed DDR bill to ensure the safety of Filipinos during disasters. 

 
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