Voting 181-5-2, the House of Representatives approved on 01 October 2018 House Bill No. 8165 which provides for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
Known as the Department of Disaster Resilience Act, HB 8165 grants the DRR the power to “oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, projects, and activities.” It mandates the DRR to provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to make the country disaster resilient.
The Department shall be led by a Secretary who shall concurrently serve as Chair of the National Disaster Resilience Council, also created under HB 8165, and as Vice-Chair of the Climate Change Commission.
Agencies to Transfer to DRR
Once the DRR is created, it shall have the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) as attached agencies. The Climate Change Commission shall continue its functions but it shall be under the Department.
Likewise, the applicable powers, functions, and funds of the following offices shall be transferred to the DRR:
- Office of Civil Defense
- Climate Change Office
- Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)
- Health and Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH)
- Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and
- Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
Next Step: Senate Approval
In a statement quoted by the Business Mirror, Leyte Representative Yedda Marie Romuladez asked the Senate to also fast track the approval of the pending DRR bills from their end. “This would help drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate the bureaucratic red tape that has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by disaster and calamity victims,” she said.
Prior to the Congress’ passage of the DRR Act, disaster management advocates weighed in on the proposed department.
Mr. Rene Meily, Executive Director of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF)underscores the need to provide the DRR the needed authority and clear mandate. “It needs to have the authority to call on all the resources of the government during a crisis so it’s clear they are the lead agency. Beyond that, it might make sense for the new department to be able to engage in mitigation and preparedness activities to prevent future calamities. Resilience is a broad term so the department’s mandate must be clearly defined,”Meily said.
Mr. Jonathan D. Batangan, First Vice President and Group Head, PJ Lhuillier, Inc., hopes the creation of the proposed department will pave the way for improved community resilience against disasters. “We need to have more strategic and inclusive policies on climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and disaster preparedness. Plans and initiatives should be crafted and executed with the needs of Filipino communities in mind, especially those most at-risk such as the poor, women, elderly, children, and the marginalized,” Batangan said.
Cebuana Lhuillier annually convenes the Cebuana Lhuillier Disaster Resilience Forum as it advocates the need to empower, capacitate, and educate every Filipino to be disaster-ready and resilient.
During his 3rd State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo R. Duterteurged the Congress to expedite the passage of the DRR bill, saying that the Philippines needs a ‘truly empowered department characterized by a unity of command, science-based approach and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters.”
sources: CNN Philippines, GMA News, ABS CBN News, Senate of the Philippines Legislative Documents, Cebuana Lhuillier’s interview with Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), Rappler, Business Mirror Philippines