A House leader has warned that there will be more lives lost if the Senate under Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III will reject President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s priority bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) due to lack of funds when it can initially allocate some P8.5 billion for the construction of its own building at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, one of the principal authors of DDR and chairman of the House committee on ways and means, pointed out that President Duterte asked Congress to pass the bill creating the DDR in his four State-of-the-Nation Addresses (SONA) — 2016, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Salceda, vice chairperson of the House committee on appropriations and co-chair of the House economic stimulus response package, said the deaths of people and destruction from the onslaught of recent typhoons, including Ulysses should serve as a wake up call for the Sotto leadership to abandon their reservations to pass the DDR.
“Eh maraming mamamatay sa gusto ng Senado, ‘yun ang gusto kong sagutin nila. Ibig sabihin parang sinasabi nila inevitable, eh samantalang ang karamihan po ng namamatay dahil sa sakuna ay preventable kung meron tayong institusyon para ayusin yan para ihanda ang mga tao, ang mga komunidad at local government,” Salceda explained, underscoring the need for the Philippines to have an integrated and comprehensive approach in addressing the calamities and disasters.
Several bills on DDR are still pending before the Senate committees on national defense and security and peace, unification and reconciliation.
He said the current system in disaster preparedness should be corrected through the approval of DDR, which will require an initial P2 billion.
“Ibig sabihin parang surrender tayo ok lang may sampung mamamatay, basta sampu lang, anong klaseng logic ‘yun?” he asked.
He said Sens. Richard Gordon, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, and Sherwin Gatchalian should reconsider their opposition in light of the continued deaths of Filipinos due to calamities.
“Well, gastos din pala ‘yung paglipat sa BGC, unahin na nila ‘yun. Napakasimple lang naman ang sinasabi ko, unahin muna ‘yung P10 billion na paglipat sa BGC,” Salceda said.
“Napakasimple lang naman ang argumento d’yan eh, kanya-kanya tayong priorities, ano ba ang prayoridad mo?” Salceda added.
The construction of a new Senate buildingwill initially cost about P8.5 billion, consisting of four 11-story towers.
The project is located at the 1.8-hectare Navy Village administered by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA).
The Senate has been paying rent to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) since 1996 for its office and to the Social Security System (SSS) for the use of its parking lot in Pasay City, amounting to an annual fee of P171 million as of 2019.
Article II, Section 4 of House Bill (HB) No. 5989 seeks to create the DDR as the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing, and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters. Its mandate covers all natural hazards.
Under the bill, the DDR may undertake and implement certain emergency measures in anticipation of, during, and in the aftermath of disasters to protect and preserve life and property and ensure and promote public safety and welfare.
Among these emergency measures are carrying out of preemptive and forced evacuation; imposition of curfew; and temporary takeover of any private utility or business, subject to payment of just compensation when there is imminent danger of loss of life or damage to property.
The proposed law also establishes the National Disaster Operations Center (NDOC), Alternative Command Centers (ACC), and Disaster Resilience Research and Training Institute (DRRTI). The NDOC is a physical center equipped with the necessary tools and systems to monitor, manage, and respond to disasters in all areas of the country, while the ACCs are command centers that would give supplemental support to the NDOC.
The DRRTI, meanwhile, is a platform for providing training preferably on site, and for collecting, consolidating, managing, analyzing, and sharing knowledge and information to improve or enhance disaster resilience.
The bill also retains local DRRM Offices in provinces, cities, and municipalities and renames them as Provincial, City, and Municipality Disaster Resilience Offices, respectively.
Further, the proposed department has powers to recommend to the President the declaration of a state of calamity, whether in whole or part of an area, in case of an extraordinary disaster wherein the repercussions on public safety and welfare are serious and far-reaching.
This bill also renames the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRM Fund) created under Republic Act 2 No. 10121 as the National Disaster Resilience Fund (NDRF) to be managed and controlled by the DDR.
HB 5989 also gives the President powers to impose administrative sanctions against local chief executives and barangay officials for willful or negligent acts performed in the implementation of, or compliance with, this Act and its IRR.
Special courts on disaster resilience matters will also be established once this bill is enacted into law.
The House, in the previous 17th Congress, passed the same measure on third and final reading.