SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco has joined the appeal of House leaders led by Tingog party-list Rep Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez fo the Senate leadership to expedite the passage of the bill creating the Department Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“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 in the wake of Typhoon Quinta’s devastation over different parts of Luzon.
“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, a principal sponsor, said.
The Romualdezes, principal authors of House Bill (HB) 5989, issued their appeal to the Senate leadership immediately after the House of Representatives on September 22, voting 241 against 7 with one abstention, passed the Disaster Resilience Act on third and final reading in its plenary session.
“We appeal to the Senate to expedite the passage of this measure (DDR) that would institutionalize the cohesive, and comprehensive framework for disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation, and response in our country,” the Romualdez couple said earlier.
“We look forward to collaborating with them on this crucial piece of legislation for the welfare and safety of Filipinos,” the Romualdezes added. “We are confident that the Senate is one with our goal to pass this bill into law this year.”
Several bills on DDR are still pending before the Senate Committees on National Defense and Security and Peace, Unification and Reconciliation.
Velasco was with his family in Marinduque when typhoon Quinta made its landfall in the region at 2 a.m. on October 25.
Work and classes were suspended as Marinduque was battered by strong winds and heavy rains.
The Speaker 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 given instructions to 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.
Article II, Section 4 of HB 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 take over of any private utility or business, subject to payment of just compensation when there is imminent danger of loss of lives 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 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 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, also passed the same measure on third and final reading while several bills creating a Department of Disaster Resilience have been pending at the committee level in the Senate since 2019.