ANOTHER House leader has joined call for passing the measure that will create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, chairperson of the House committee on disaster resilience, urged theSenate to pass the measure saying the government cannot underestimate disasters.
Torres-Gomez is a co-author of House Bill 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act, which will establish the DDR.
The House of Representatives passed the bill last September. It is now awaiting approval of the Senate and President Duterte.
“I think the problem is two-fold. The first part is a force of nature, definitely driven by climate change. Ulysses was the tipping point, being the fourth typhoon in a row to hit the same areas. Our watersheds and basins were already saturated, so we were ripe for massive flooding,” Torres-Gomez said.
However, the lawmaker pointed out that solving climate change requires the commitment of larger economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
She said the second part of the problem is systemic in nature because government never intends to fail its people, but often good intentions are not enough.
“We need to come to terms that the disjointed system we are currently using to address natural disasters is just not working as well as we need it to be. When the system is limited, no matter how hard we work, we can really only accomplish so much,” she said.
The current setup, she said, puts the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council as the lead agency in managing natural disasters. The council’s mandate is mainly policy making and coordination. It has to coordinate with so many other departments down to the LGUs that “it’s really hard to plan and function as one entity.”
However, she pointed out, under a Department of Disaster Resilience, “we will have a Secretary who has a top-level view of the entire forest of problems, so that he or she can see that disaster is not just a localized problem, but rather many integrated problems that we need to learn to connect.”
“We have to keep our eye on the ball. We have to stop underestimating the effects of natural disasters on our country. We need to recognize the gravity of our country’s disaster proneness— we are fourth in the world. And it is not fair to the country to penny pinch in terms of budget. We have to provide a solution that is commensurate to the problem. We, therefore, need to elevate our solution to a department level, under the leadership of a cabinet member.”
“Our responsibility as leaders and lawmakers is to face reality and see it as it is. It is clear enough that we need the Department of Disaster Resilience. We need to set aside politics and make this change happen,” Torres-Gomez said.