Disaster Resilience Department a must

January 16, 2020

MALACANANG should certify as urgent the House bill creating the Department of Disaster Resiliency.

A lawmaker said 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.

The country needs a ‘super body’ to zero in on its requirement for disaster preparedness and rehabilitation, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said.

“What we lack is a coordinating body with highly trained individuals and available budget to handle such delicate tasks,” Castelo, vice  chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, explained.

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

“However, the DND doesn’t have the expertise to handle disasters. There should also be a department that can manage the funds from  ODA so that they can be fully and effectively utilized for disaster preparedness,” she added.

Castelo said having the super body becomes more important owing to the fact that the Philippines lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire frequented by calamities.

“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 explained.

Last year, two House panels approved the Disaster Preparedness Department bill. Senator Bong Go earlier said he will prod President Duterte to approve the measure.



The World Health Organization has admitted that e-cigarettes are less harmful relative to cigarettes.

The acknowledgment came from WHO representative Dr. Ranti Fayokun, Scientist in the National Capacity-Tobacco Control Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases during the hearing on vaping regulation conducted by the Philippine House of Representatives last month.

Dr. Fayokun’s admission was made amidst the organization’s cautious stand on e-cigarettes despite the mounting scientific evidence that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.  

Public Health England has always maintained that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco and has encouraged smokers who can’t quit smoking to switch to the less harmful alternative.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2018 released a report stating that “ completely switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes will reduce exposure to numerous toxicants and carcinogens found in cigarettes”.

“They [World Health Organization) are saying if you are a country that cannot produce regulation and cannot enforce regulation, you must ban. That, to me, is a contradiction. A country cannot regulate perfectly, but the last thing it should do is ban because the black market will proliferate. This is an issue that is extremely important to children.

If we ban things, if we do not regulate things, we create a black market that does not care about children, that does not care about elderly people, that does not care about us at all,” Dr. Andrew da Roza, an addictions psychotherapist, and lawyer said in the congressional hearing.

A ban on electronic cigarettes and heat-no-burn tobacco products will only create a black market that will be disastrous to public health, according to international public health experts who attended a hearing.

“If you ban them, there will simply be a black market. When the United States banned alcohol in the 1900s, that did not work out,” said. Dr. Andrew da Roza.

Representative Weslie Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade, said the hearing was called because “the use of ENDS and heated tobacco products is now a national concern, so much so that the President (Rodrigo Duterte) recently issued a directive banning the importation and use of ENDS and HTPs in public spaces.

“This committee respects the directive of the President, and sees this as an opportunity for the Philippines to finally regulate this innovative device,” Gatchalian said earlier.


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