New department to ensure quick disaster response needed, says Escudero

Senator Chiz Escudero on Tuesday, August 2, called for the creation of a new department or an agency dedicated for ensuring timely and immediate government response, which is also free of red-tape, during times of disasters and natural calamities.

Escudero made the call following appeals from various sectors to put up a department for disaster response in light of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Abra and other parts of Northern Luzon.

He said there should be a law creating such an agency. And that law "should have an anti-red tape provision and must ban complex rules that impede the flow of rehabilitation funds to calamity-stricken areas," he added.

Escudero, former governor of Sorsogon, lamented that the release of funds during emergencies is usually delayed because of the arduous process and many documents that the national government requires from the local government units.

"The forthcoming hearing on the creation of a new department or agency on disaster response, relief and resilience will expose how long the process is and how long the list of documentary requirements are in securing so-called calamity funds," Escudero then warned, referring to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (NDRRMF), which has an appropriation of P20 billion for this year.