Bongbong backpedals, now agrees with sis Imee's proposal to create disaster resilience body

A day after President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. backed the passage of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), he backpedaled and instead agreed with his sister's idea to merely create a disaster resilience body under the Office of the President (OP).

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. (Screengrab from RTVM)

Marcos took back his previous pronouncement after agreeing with Senator Imee Marcos' proposal to establish a body of disaster resilience during the situation briefing led by the President in Bangued, Abra on Thursday, July 28.

"May I recommend rather than a full-scale department na mauubos lang ang budget sa sahod ng limang Usec at sangkatutak na Asec (whose budget would only be spent for the salary of five undersecretaries and many assistant secretaries). Can we start with an NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) authority or administration?" the Senator asked the President, turning a portion of the briefing into a mini legislative session.

"We are siblings indeed. I fully agree," the Chief Executive responded.

The President stressed that in responding to natural calamities like the magnitude 7.0 quake that jolted Northern Luzon on July 27, "you don't really have to form a policy," but an immediate search and rescue response.

"It is just an implementation of search and rescue missions. There are many models but the good model that I've seen is FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)," he said.

"We should get that proposed bill ready," the President furthered.

Senator Imee was quick to let the President know that a bill on that matter has actually been filed by her. "The bill is filed. I filed it myself," she said, as she gained the President's nod.

The Senator's proposal further earned backing from House Speaker Martin Romualdez, who was also present during the briefing.

"On the part of the House, we shall support the good Senator's proposal here owing to the fact that we have always been looking for best practices in FEMA," Romualdez said.

Senator Imee articulated that forming a disaster resilience body under the OP would eliminate going through a chain of commands and several departments before launching a national-wide disaster response.

The Senator has been pushing the creation of a body for disaster resilience modeled after the United States' FEMA.

During a Palace briefing on Wednesday, July 27, hours after the strong quake jolted Luzon provinces, the President agreed for the passage of the bill seeking to establish the DDR, saying, "we need more capability than we have now."

He expressed his support for the measure as he recognized that calamities like the 7.0-magnitude earthquake will likely happen again in the country.