SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go renewed his call for the timely passage of Senate Bill No. 205, a measure he filed in 2019 which seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience.
He said the creation of the proposed department which would handle disaster preparedness, mitigation and management is a big step towards making the country more disaster resilient and would help avert incidents of significant damage and loss of life in the future.
The Senator also said that this measure shall provide a clearer chain of command, more responsive mechanisms and a more holistic, proactive approach in handling crisis situations in the country where natural disasters are already “normal occurrences.”
“I will not lose hope. Patuloy akong mananawagan. Maybe, at the proper time, ay maipapasa na rin ito dahil kailangan talaga natin ng cabinet-level na secretary […] para rin maayos at mas mabilis ‘yung koordinasyon between the national government agencies and the local government offices,” he said during an interview on November 25.
Go reiterated that while current mechanisms are in place, policy makers must be open to improving these further to ensure that the government becomes more responsive to the changing times.
“Iyung pinirmahan ni Pangulong Duterte na Executive Order na nagtatalaga ng task force para sa [mga typhoons], kung mayroon na tayong departamento (DDR) ay hindi na po kailangan ‘yun,” he added.
Go’s proposed measure consolidates the essential functions of all disaster-related agencies into the DDR. This allows for a more aggressive, concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction as well as the faster and more efficient delivery of services during crises.
“Isang aspeto na dapat natin mas maisaayos pa ay ang inter-agency coordination. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit matagal ko nang inirerekomenda at paulit-ulit ko nang sinasabi na dapat magkaroon ng isang departamento na may secretary-level na in-charge para mayroong timon na tagapamahala ng preparedness, response, and resilience mechanisms pagdating sa ganitong mga krisis at sakuna,” he previously said.
He added that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a mere coordinating body, can be improved further from its current form. By creating a new department, the senator explained that inter-agency coordination can be streamlined and made more responsive to the needs of affected communities.
“Kung may DDR, ito na ang lalapitan natin. Sila ang kakausapin ng Pangulo at sila ang gagabay sa local officials at iba pang ahensya. Bago pa man dumating ang kalamidad, maghahanda na sila. Hindi na po malilito ang ating mga kababayan kung kanino at saan sila hihingi ng tulong at impormasyon,” he said.
He also pointed out that relevant agencies, such as the Office of Civil Defense; Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration; and Philippine Institute of Volcanology are presently under different departments.
The Senator noted that there are at least six similar bills now pending in the Senate supporting the creation of the DDR. The House of Representatives passed their version last September 21 of this year.
“Nirerespeto ko ang mga opinyon ng ilang mga kasamahan kong mambabatas hinggil sa panukalang ito. Ako naman ay palaging bukas at handang makinig sa mga suhestyon upang mas lalong mapabuti ang mga panukalang ipinaglalaban natin,” he previously said.
He clarified that this is the reason why he is urging his colleagues in the Senate to act on this proposed measure, saying “Let us deliberate on it and let the legislative process take its course.”
The President has also emphasized his support to the measure in numerous pronouncements including his most recent State of the Nation Address.
“Kung gaano kabilis at kadalas ang pagdating ng krisis sa ating bansa, dapat lamang na maging mas mabilis, mas maayos, at mas maaasahan ang serbisyo natin upang maprotektahan ang kapakanan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he said. ####