LEGAZPI CITY --- Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has reiterated his call for the Senate to pass its own version of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) in the wake of recent disasters, such as the series of strong quakes and long dry spell that hit many parts of the country.
Following two successive earthquakes that hit Luzon and the Samar areas last week, the Senate leadership said in uncertain terms, “it would do its best to pass” its DDR version before the end of the session, prior to the May polls.
Sixteen people were declared dead, 14 missing, and 86 injured in the Luzon earthquake that affected at least 24 cities and towns in Pampanga, Bulacan, Zambales, and Metro Manila.
The temblor also hit Clark International Airport and affected the LRT and MRT lines in Metro Manila, the operations of which were temporarily halted, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers.
The Albay solon, quoting the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, said tackling the DDR bill after the May polls in the remaining session days face a hitch because the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, where the bill has been referred to, had remained vacant following the resignation of Senator Loren Legarda.
Salceda said he has appealed to Senate President Tito Sotto to nominate a new chair for the committee, if only for the purpose of passing the DDR bill, considering its urgency.
In October last year, the House of Representatives has unanimously passed House Bill 6075. also known as the DDR law. This was in response to President Duterte’s call for a separate department serving as the principal agent of the government in reducing risks, in responding to impacts and in managing recovery and reconstruction.
Salceda, original proponent of HB 6075, said the urgency to enact the bill—felt, even more, pressed by the people these days—should surpass other priorities because it spells the country’s survival.
The DDR bill proposes the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience, the primary government agency responsible for leading, managing, and organizing the national effort to prevent, reduce disaster risk, prepare for and respond to disasters, and recover, rehabilitate, and build forward better after their occurrence.
The bill amends Republic Act 10121, which essentially organized the local effort and recognized the primacy of LGUs in DRR.
The DDR once created would transfer the disaster risk reduction and management functions, assets, and funds and personnel of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to the DDR.
The Climate Change Office of the Climate Change Commission, Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines of the Geosciences Bureau, the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the DoH, and the Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau of the DSWD are abolished and their powers, functions, and personnel are transferred to the DDR.
Likewise, the Bureau of Fire Protection is transferred to the DDR while the PAGASA and the PHIVOLCS are attached to it.