SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his call for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience saying 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.
“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 measures pagdating sa ganitong mga krisis at sakuna,” he reiterated.
He 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.”
“Huwag na natin antayin pa na magkaroon ng panibagong kalamidad. Dapat may isang departamento kung saan secretary level ang mamamahala sa disaster resilience upang maprotektahan ang kabuhayan at kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” Go said in a radio interview given on Monday, November 2.
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 changing times.
“Dapat mayroong cabinet level na mamamahala at may regional offices… may isang ahensya po na nakatutok talaga para gawing mas maayos, mabilis at maasahan ang serbisyo na maibibigay ng gobyerno sa panahon ng krisis at sakuna,” said Go.
“Ang cabinet-level agency na 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 kababyaan kung kanino at saan sila hihingi ng tulong at impormasyon,” he added.
Go reiterated his call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 205, a measure he filed in 2019 which seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience that would be primarily responsible for ensuring that local communities are well-adapted, resilient and safe from the impacts of climate change.
He 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 under different departments.
When asked to respond to comments that a DDR is unnecessary, the Senator said he respects the opinions of his fellow legislators.
“Nirerespeto ko ang mga opinyon ng ilang mga kasamahan kong mambabatas hinggil sa panukalang Department of Disaster Resilience. Ako naman ay palaging bukas at handang makinig sa mga suhestyon ng mga kasamahan ko upang mas lalong mapabuti ang mga panukalang ipinaglalaban natin,” he responded.
He, however, 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.”
“I am sure other Senators, subject matter experts, and executive officials can also contribute to the discussions on how to improve further the mechanisms in making our country more prepared, responsive, and disaster-resilient,” Go explained.
The Senator also 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.
The President has also emphasized his support to the measure in numerous pronouncements including his most recent State of the Nation Address.
“Para sa akin naman, kailangan nating intindihin na parte na ng buhay natin ang mga kalamidad at sakuna. Huwag na natin pang intayin na may dumating pang mas malalang krisis bago tayo umaksyon.
Go emphasized that policymakers “should be more proactive in improving further our mechanisms to ensure that the whole government is responsive to the needs of our people amid changing times.”
“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.