Lawmaker stresses urgency of disaster resilience body

A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Wednesday said the country needs a super body to zero in on its requirement for disaster preparedness, response, and rehabilitation.

Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo joined the mounting calls for a new department solely focused on disaster management, as she urged MalacaAang to certify as urgent the measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Our experience on the slow and uncoordinated response to the Taal Volcano eruption proved the government needs to enact the proposed law as soon as possible, Castelo said.

What we lack is a coordinating body with highly trained individuals and available budget to handle such delicate tasks, she added.

Under the bill, the DDR shall be the primary government agency responsible for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate, and build forward better after the destruction.

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

Castelo said the Philippines is currently relying on the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Official Development Assistance (ODA) in times of calamities.

She, however, noted that the DND does not have the expertise to handle disasters, arguing that a super body becomes more important owing to the fact that the Philippines lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire frequented by calamities.

The lawmaker added that the proposed department could manage the funds from ODA so that they can be fully and effectively utilized for disaster preparedness.

Records show that our country is hit by 20 typhoons every year. Given that, we are in dire need of a dependable response system to protect our people, she said.

The DDR bill has already hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the passage of the DDR bill will be prioritized when Congress resumes session on January 20.

Source: Philippines News Agency