THE province of Albay was adversely devastated by Typhoon Rolly but its two representatives have differing opinions on the proposed creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, one of the proponents of DDR Bill, said the purpose of the department is to institutionalize disaster preparedness and response.
But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the creation of the department will only create an unnecessary layer in the bureaucracy.
Earlier, some senators particularly Sen. Franklin Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, have expressed doubts on the DDR saying it is just a “knee-jerk” reaction an that it will only further bloat the bureaucracy instead of streamlining it.
In a statement, Salceda defended the bill saying the proposal for a DDR does not merely create an agency but it institutionalizes disaster preparedness, response, and future-proofing as a national responsibility with an institutionalized framework.
“The point is disaster preparedness should no longer be relegated to the reaches of the bureaucracy. The head of disaster preparedness should be able to propose measures straight within the Cabinet and towards the President. The logistical operation that is disaster response, and the complex planning that is required in disaster preparedness is simply too important to be consigned to a mere coordinating body,” Salceda said.
He added that if the problem is the funding, it is the mandate of the government to look for the budget for the department.
Contrary to the claims of Salceda, Lagman said he is opposed to the bill because it would only balloon the expenses for personnel, MOOE and capital outlay which could be used for more immediate needs and requirements.
Lagman also said that existing government agencies like the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are effectively performing in disaster prevention, mitigation, management and rehabilitation, and should be allocated more funds as existing agencies without the need for creating a new department.
“In most countries, there are no separate departments for disaster resilience and response. For example, in Japan an ad hoc committee is created headed by the Prime Minister, as needed, in response to particular calamities. In Thailand, there is a department of disaster prevention and mitigation under the larger Ministry of Interior. In Singapore, it is the Singapore Civil Defence Force, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is in charge of disaster resilience,” Lagman added.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has appealed to the Senate to approve the DDR bill. The measure was already passed on final reading in the House of Representatives.
Under the measure, the DDR is mandated to be 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.”