• Melo Acuna

Department of Disaster Resilience, soon a reality

House of Representatives approves Department of Disaster Resilience

MANILA – The House of Representatives today approved house Bill No. 5989 which mandates the creation of Department of Disaster Resilience, the country’s national emergency management agency, which was earlier formulated as a synthesis of insights and experience in disaster risk reduction during the term of Albay Governor Jose Sarte Salceda.

In a statement released after the House of Representatives approved the measure. Salceda, principal author of the measure, said the creation of the DDR will ensure that the country is able to anticipate and proactively respond to emergencies and disasters, which Salceda said will intensify with the worsening climate conditions.

Salceda, who sits as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and Appropriates Committee Vice Chair said the DDR will help the country deal with disasters and emergencies whose impacts are beyond everyone’s control though its risks could be mitigated.

“We can no longer deny the fact that climate change is real, that we are volcanically and tectonically active country, and that we have several strong typhoons a year. Disasters are a fact of Philippine life. But we can mitigate the human and socioeconomic costs of these disasters. DDR will help ensure that we have a full0time agency in-charge of keeping us strong and ready for disasters,” he further said.

The DDR was approved by the House during the 17th Congress but was not acted upon on time in the Philippine Senate.

Salceda further said from 2015 until 2016, the review set the basis for the initial drafts of 34 bills and four House resolutions on disaster risk reduction and management. With support from two consecutive SONAs in 2017 and 2018, thee proposed legislation creating a Department of Disaster Resilience gained support. No less than President Duterte classified the DDR creation a priority measure. There were 181 votes, five against and two abstentions during the 17th Congress which passed on third and final reading the creation of the DDR.

It was learned during the 18th Congress, 27 bills were consolidated into the approved version. Once organized, the DDR would be an institutionalized agency coordinating national response to disasters and emergencies and would replace the ad-hoc National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)l.

“Before I became Governor, tragedy was a fact of life in Albay. We were what I would call “the Vatican of disasters.” We had typhoons, volcanic activity, and all associated disasters year-round. Ang it appeared that the culture began to accept death from disasters as almost an inevitability, if a sad fact of life. We just came from “Reming,” which killed hundreds in Albay,” he added.

He was credited for the “zero casualty: doctrine in disaster management and implemented all possible methods to save lives, monitoring typhoons as soon as they were detected and implemented innovative public communication and preparedness programs to built a culture of preparedness.

The DDR is expected to lead in the continuous develop0ment of strategic, holistic and systematic approaches to disaster management, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation as well as anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques and options.

Congressman Salceda expressed his appreciation to his colleagues for the support his proposed measure received. (Melo M. Acuna)

Albay Rep. Jose Sarte Salceda (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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