TAGUIG-PATEROS First District Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano has stressed the need to invest in disaster prevention and rehabilitation programs as he renewed his call for the establishment of an emergency response department, or the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“Ang katunayan po, kailangan natin ng isang departamento na 24/7, 365 days a year ang tinitingnan lang, how to make us more resilient and how to give relief and rehabilitation,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano made the statement during a visit to Sta. Rosa City and San Pedro City, Laguna to distribute relief goods to more than 1,200 families affected by typhoon Ulysses. He also handed over relief goods to 30 families affected by a recent fire in Sta. Rosa.
Speaking to local officials, Cayetano said while local governments and national government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), may have developed systematic mechanisms for the implementation of their respective post-disaster programs, the whole government itself is not as quick and aggressive in the process of “building back better” after a devastating disaster.
“Nakita niyo po sa Yolanda, gaano katagal bago po nakapasok ang gobyerno, ‘yung pag-transport ng gamot, generators, and everything,” he added.
He also cited the case of Laguna, Marikina, Isabela, and Cagayan where many areas were flooded during the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses on November 11 and 12.
“Katulad ng nangyayari sa Laguna ngayon na napakaraming lugar na binaha, may mga lugar tayo dito, 300 families pa ang hindi pa rin makauwi dahil mataas pa rin ang tubig. Nakita din natin na mas grabe ‘yung sa Marikina, sa Isabela, sa Cagayan, pero walang long-term na plano ang gobyerno para i-address ito,” he said.
Cayetano expressed confidence that the members of bicameral committee, which began to deliberate on the final version of 2021 National Budget on Tuesday, will choose to invest in the right priorities rather than on “pork” projects.
In an interview with the media at the sidelines of the event, Cayetano said he believes the President will veto projects that do not have the right priorities.
“Kung hindi nila ilalagay ang tamang priorities, ako’y naniniwala na ibi-veto ng Pangulo. If uunahin yung pork rather than priorities, naniniwala akong ibi-veto,” he said.
Cayetano also said he believes that in the long run, the creation of a dedicated agency that will manage disaster prevention, response, and rehabilitation efforts is vital in addressing the weakness in coordination and collaboration of the existing disaster council set-up.
The DDR bill seeks to establish a clear chain of command in times of major disasters. The DDR will be a focused and specialized single government agency that functions not only after the occurrence of disasters but works year-round to ensure that effective mechanisms for disaster risk reduction are in place even before a disaster occurs.
Cayetano, the primary author of the bill, said he hopes the Senate will consider the approval of the priority measure establishing the DDR given the past strong typhoons that have had severe impact on lives and properties
The bill was passed on third and final reading in the House of Representatives on September 21, 2020.