There’s urgent need for disaster dep’t — Poe

Grace Poe
Grace Poe

ALARMED by the extreme changes in the weather that saw a strong typhoon hit this December, Senator Grace Poe said there is an urgency to pass the bill that would create the Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management, saying the people’s safety needs cannot wait.

Poe’s Senate Bill 1735 that was filed in March 2018 seeks a new agency which will have the authority in policy-making, planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of programs relating to disaster risk reduction and management.

The senator cited the need for enhanced coordination between the national government and local government units to effectively respond to the needs of communities before and after calamities, such as typhoons.

The measure aims to strengthen the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system and institutions, particularly the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), which was created in 2010.

In the wake of Tropical Depression Usman, which hit the Bicol region and Samar provinces over the weekend, Poe said she received text messages from people trapped in their homes and seeking help.

“Parang kulang pa rin ang coordination ng national government at ng local government units, kasi wala naman talagang point person sa NDRRMC,” she said in a radio interview.

“Dapat may point person at saka kung sino ‘yung responsable; hindi ‘yung pasahan na ‘hindi, DSWD ‘yan, ay hindi DPWH ‘yan,’ may plano talaga dapat.”

The NDRRMC is technically under the Department of National Defense, which is also addressing many concerns, she said.

Poe also observed that the body is almost powerless because it is not headed by an official with a Cabinet rank.

“Sa tingin ko naman ngayon, matagal na ding napag-uusapan... maraming naging prayoridad na mga batas. Ang malungkot dito, parang naaalala lang natin ito tuwing nagkakaroon ng sakunang ganito,” Poe said.

Under SB 1735, the NDRRMC shall be transferred from the Department of National Defense to the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management.

The proposed department shall serve as the secretariat and Executive arm and convert the NDRRMC’s plan into “specific operational guidelines and programs.” It shall also have regional offices.