'No need for new agency': Imee files bill upgrading NDRRMC

Senator Imee Marcos has refiled a bill seeking an upgrade to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), with enhanced powers under the Office of the President (OP) and a more significant budget, instead of creating a full-scale department.

Marcos, elder sister of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., had filed Senate Bill (SB) 1125 creating a National Resilience and Disaster Management Authority way back in October 2019 during the 18th Congress and refiled it as SB 186 this after the July 25 start of the 19th Congress

“Let’s move forward from chaotic disaster response to year-round resiliency,” she emphasized.

The lady senator’s proposal was taken up during Thursday’s public meeting presided by President Marcos with national and local officials in Abra.

“The required presence of the President, DSWD Secretary, NDRRMC, AFP, DPWH, and PHIVOLCS in disaster zones simply to coordinate adequate assistance and repairs underlines the urgency of empowering the NDRRMC,” Senator Marcos said.

"The NDRRMC can be upgraded from its present status as a council to an authority or administration, instead of being converted into a full-scale department requiring a large budget just for the salaries of the typical five undersecretaries and countless assistant secretaries," she explained.

She said the upgraded agency would exercise command and control over concerned departments, agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and local government units, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), to provide immediate response in times of disaster, armed conflict, and other man-made hazards.

Marcos noted that the delay in mobilizing resources during times of disaster was due to the current practice of having to go through different government agencies, various chains of command in the PNP and branches of the AFP, often even requiring the President to personally mobilize frontline departments.

Senator Marcos cited the evolution of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) which started out as a mere office, until it was elevated afterwards to a commission during the term of her father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Only many years later, when its workload necessitated its enlargement and its personnel had received extensive training, did it finally become the department it is today.