Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera asked senators Sunday to take another look at the proposed bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience in light of the devastation brought to the country by successive tropical cyclones.
“We hope our good senators will take a second look at the significance of the DDR bill which the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading last September,” said Herrera, a deputy majority leader.
“We can minimize the loss of life and damage to property if we create a single, permanent agency that will bring better disaster preparedness and efficient delivery of government services during calamities,” she said.
For the DDR measure to be enacted, the senators must pass their own version of the bill first. However, some members of the Senate are of the opinion that creating new departments such as the DDR would lead to the bloating of the bureaucracy.
This would have an impact on the funding of more important government programs and services during this time of pandemic, they contended.
Herrera claimed this won’t be the case.
“The DDR will be funded initially by the unexpended appropriation of all the agencies absorbed or transferred to the DDR,” she said.
Some 21 tropical cyclones have entered the Philippine Area of Resposibility so far this year, with the latest, typhoon “Ulysses,” causing massive flooding in Metro Manila and nearby areas. It has been likened to the great deluge caused by typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009.
On top of this, at least 382 earthquakes have occurred in the country this year, including two separate 6.6-magnitude tremors that jolted Davao Oriental and Masbate on June 4 and Aug. 18, respectively.
“We can no longer allow for the same problems to occur every storm, every typhoon, every calamity, when we all know we can do better through a central agency,” Herrera said.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte, one of the authors of the DDR bill passed by the House, said the construction of permanent, “climate-resilient” evacuation centers should top the priorities of the DDR once it comes into fruition.
He said this would do away with the use of public schools as evacuation sites, a practice that has been strongly discouraged by the Department of Education as it disrupts classes until the evacuees are able to return to their homes.