A HOUSE leader has joined calls to pass a bill seeking the creation of a government agency that would specifically deal with disasters and other calamities in the country.
In a sponsorship message he delivered for the passage of the bill, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco underscored the need for a coherent government response to disasters under a new agency that would be called the Department of Disaster Resilience.
Velasco, who is expected to take over the post of speaker in over a year from now, noted that the country has an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year which produce floods, landslides and storm surges.
Following a meeting with Dr. Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Velasco surmised that the Philippines is among the top countries in the world with a higher risk of disasters.The others are Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Brunei.
Velasco also noted that the country is host to 300 volcanoes of which 24 are active.
He said 20 earthquakes are recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvocs) everyday including some 90 destructive earthquakes and 40 tsunamis in the past 400 years.
Velasco said that the “new normal of the 21st Century” are more intense typhoons and increased disaster risks.
Speaking of earthquakes, he said studies culled by Philvocs showed that among the areas that have a higher risk of intensity-8 earthquakes are the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Rizal and Cavite. Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Laguna and Batangas are located in the low intensity-8 areas under the seismic map.
Given the risks poised by these looming disasters, the Marinduque lawmaker has called on his colleagues to pass House Bill No. 3459 entitled “An Act Creating the Department of Disaster Resilience Defining its Powers And Functions, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.”
Under the bill, the department shall be headed by a secretary, with four undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors who are “preferably specialists in the field of disaster risk reduction and management, science and technology, environmental science and management, urban planning, civil engineering, public finance, information and communications technology, logistics management, mass communication and other fields relevant to disaster resilience.
The department shall also establish regional, provincial, city, municipal and barangay disaster resilience offices following the abolition of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Offices.
“This bill applies the painful lessons from the country’s major disasters like Typhoon Yolanda and global best practices,” said Velasco.