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Senate must pass DDR bill — Salceda

THE 24 persons who died from the onslaught of super typhoon Rolly should serve as a new wake up call for the Senate to pass the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, one of the principal authors of DDR, reminded the Senate leadership that DDR was among the priority bills enumerated by President Rodrigo Duterte in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), prompting the House of Representatives under the leadership of former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to approve the measure on third and final reading.

According to the November 3 report from the Philippine National Police, the death toll from Rolly (international name: Goni), the world’s strongest typhoon so far this year, has climbed to 24 while 26 others were injured and five remain missing.

“Fortune favors the prepared. We cannot avoid typhoons and other calamities that come with our geography, but we can keep the risks low and the damage controlled. That is resilience: being able to achieve meaningful progress despite natural and external adversities The DDR will be the primary agency responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction,” Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, explained.

“How much human sufferings do we have to endure before we pass the vital DDR Act?” Salceda added.

The approval of DDR during Cayetano’s speakership was in line with the directive of President Duterte to strengthen the country’s defense against various calamities.

The lack of funds and additional spending for the creation of the new agency are the main reasons why Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Dick Gordon opposed the passage of the bill.

But Salceda insisted that Congress can find a way to allocate funds for DDR.

“If the problem is funding, it is the mandate of the government to look for the budget for the department,” Salceda said.

Salceda assured Lacson and Gordon that the chamber through his committee has been searching for additional funding for the national government through the tax policy reforms.

“We can be efficient in funding the DDR. We can find the funds for the new agency. But, if the problem is funding, then let’s find the funding, and not deny the problem,” Salceda said.