A lawmaker representing one of the most disaster-prone provinces in the country called on President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as an urgent administration measure the bill proposing to create the Department of Disaster Resilience.
Noting that the typhoon season in the country is fast approaching, Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez underscored the importance of creating a single agency that will address the devastating effects of natural disasters.
She said the proposal to pass a law that would create the DDR has been among the legislativer proposals aired by President Duterte in two of his state-of-nation addresses.
Torres-Gomez, chairperson of the House Committee on Disaster Resilience, noted that the Lower House was able to pass in September, 2020 House Bill 5989 entitled An Act Creating the Department of Disaster Resilience, Defining its Mandate, Powers and Functions and Appropriating Funds Therfore, or the Disaster Resilience Act.
The approved measure was transmitted to the Senate for its action.
HB 5989 received strong bipartisan support in the Lower House.
“In 2020, we experienced how disaster incidences ran their own course regardless of the pandemic. The total damages, just from the string of typhoons in the fourth quarter of last year, reached about Php 40 billion,” noted Torres- Gomez.
“We need to raise our game in disaster management and build national resilience by establishing a full-fledged department. Otherwise, our country will always be on the losing end in the face of persistent extreme weather occurrences and destructive geologic events,” she explained.
Torres-Gomez stressed that the creation of the proposed DDR would ensure a more efficient, coordinated, and complete system of disaster management, and thus, mitigate extensive damage to lives and properties.
She also emphasized the importance of an integrated approach to all aspects of disaster management, from building resilience, to response and rehabilitation, as part of a sound post-COVID strategy for the country.
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading in September last year its version of the measure proposing the creation of the DDR even as the government struggled to deal with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. “I am appealing to President Duterte to please certify as urgent the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). The DDR has been in the list of priority measures for the past two SONAs. Having the DDR in place ensures that whatever economic gains we achieve would not be at risk of slipping back just because of disaster events, especially as we re-establish our economy post-COVID,” Torres-Gomez said. Torres-Gomez likewise implored members of the Senate to urgently act on the proposal, citing the onset of the wet season anytime soon.
“The rainy season will start soon. Many of our people who live in disaster-prone areas will again spend long days and nights worrying about the safety of their families once the typhoons start coming. Let us all act fast to finish legislative deliberations on the proposal so President Duterte can sign it into law before his term ends,” the lawmaker said.