Disaster department push gains ground

THE House Committee on Appropriations has endorsed the consolidated bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Hours before the plenary session in Batangas City, the committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab voted in favor of the measure proposing the department that will be in charge of the nation’s disaster risk preparedness, mitigation, management, and response.

The DDR bill is expected to be approved on Second Reading.

“The eruption of Taal volcano requires us to act on this measure now,” Ungab said.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is the principal author of the DDR bill, which passed through the Ungab panel because of its appropriation provisions.

Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, a co-author of the bill, said the proposed new department would absorb the Office of Civil Defense and other relevant agencies, their personnel and funds.

The substitute bill was also approved by the Committee on Government Reorganization and Committee on Disaster Management.

A technical working group (TWG) co-chaired by Tingog Sinirangan party-list  Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and CWS Rep. Romeo Momo, Sr. consolidated and harmonized the provisions of 32 measures.

Romualdez gave the assurance that, during the TWG meeting, the structure and budget reorganization of key government agencies were exhaustively discussed. She added that manifestations and proposals of valued stakeholders were earnestly considered as the panel drafted the substitute bill.

Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda lauded the TWG for thoroughly reviewing the various versions of the measure establishing the DDR, which resulted in a substitute bill that promotes science-based and risk-informed development plans and investments.

In the explanatory note of his HB 4, Speaker Cayetano said that while the country has very good people in the National Disaster Risk, Reduction Management Council, it is high time that the government created a focused, single-minded, specialized department to upgrade the government’s capacity to respond to disasters in an effective and speedy manner.