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Velasco prods Senate on disaster dep’t bill

Lord Allan Velasco
Lord Allan Velasco

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco urged the Senate to prioritize the passage of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DRR).

Velasco made the appeal following the devastation created by typhoon Quinta in the provinces of Luzon.

The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the measure on third and final reading by a vote of 241-7 with one abstention.

“We earnestly urge our counterparts in the Senate to pass their own version so we can subsequently work on the enrolled bill to be sent to President Duterte’s desk for his signature,” Velasco said.

Velasco is one of the 35 authors and sponsors of the bill creating the DRR, which is now awaiting deliberations in the Senate.

“The Philippines is frequented by typhoons and our country is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, making us vulnerable to earthquakes. A Department that deals specifically with disaster response and management is urgently needed,” Velasco added.

The House leader was with his family in Marinduque when typhoon Quinta made landfall in the region at 2 am on October 26. Work and classes were suspended as Marinduque was battered by strong winds and heavy rains.

Velasco is currently coordinating efforts to rehabilitate his home province in the typhoon’s aftermath.

“We assure Marinduqueños that relief efforts are underway, and that we are working closely with the Provincial Government in the recovery and rehabilitation of Marinduque,” he said.

The Speaker has also instructed his staff to coordinate with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so that assistance and immediate relief operations may be extended to other areas hit by the typhoon.

Velasco said the creation of the DDR will help the country immensely in mitigating the devastating effects of natural disasters, especially at a time when the whole world is battling a pandemic.

“The creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience allows us to be constantly prepared and well-equipped when natural disasters occur. This will enable other Departments to put all their focus and efforts in helping the country recover from COVID-19,” Velasco said.

The measure seeks to establish the DDR as the primary government agency that will lead, organize and manage the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for, and respond to disasters, and lead in recovery and rehabilitation efforts.