Creation of disaster, emergency response department pressed amid Taal eruption
MANILA, Philippines — Following the recent eruption of Taal Volcano that has displaced thousands in Batangas and Cavite, Senator Grace Poe is pushing anew for the creation of department that would focus on disaster resilience and emergency management.
“Dahil sa marami na ring nangyayaring mga kalamidad sa ating bansa e napapanahon na na magkaroon ng isang departamento na tututok sa tatlong bagay – ang pag iwas sa pagkakaroon ng trahedya, lalung lalo pag may kalamidad; ang pagbibigay ng tamang responde pagka nagkaroon ng kalamidad; at ang pangatlo—na madalas na nakakalimutan—ang rehabilitasyon pagkatapos ng isang kalamidad,” Poe said in an intervie on dzMM Tuesday morning.
(Because there’s been a lot of calamities in our country lately, it’s time that we have a department that would focus on three things–prevention of a tragedy during calamities; proper disaster response; and number three—which we usually forget—is the rehabilitation after a calamity).
Poe’s Senate Bill No. 124, one of several measures pushing for the establishment of such department, seeks to provide leadership and accountability with the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management (DDREM).
“Yung ating NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) ngayon, bagama’t sila ay abala sa mga nangyayari, hindi pa ito ganap na departamento, so anong ibig sabihin niyan? Walang talagang secretary or Cabinet-rank level kaya coordinating council lang sila,” she pointed out.
(The NDRRMC, while they are busy during times of calamities, it is still not a department, so what does this mean? There’s no secretary or an official with a Cabinet rank).
“Ngayon turuan po e. Oo, nandiyan yung namumuno ng NDRRMC na si Executive Director Ricardo Jalad, pero hindi naman siya ang namumuno ng lahat ng departamento na merong kinalaman diyan,” she said.
(Right now, it’s becoming a blame game. Yes, NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad is there, but he does not have the power over other concerned departments).
Poe is referring to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Work and Highways.
“Parang coordinating council lang ang NDRRMC at wala naman talaga silang kapangyarihan…sinong magiging responsable dito, dapat may isang kalihim na magiging responsable,” she added.
(The NDRRMC is only a coordinating council and they really do not have the powers…So who will we look up to or hold responsible, there should be a secretary that would be responsible)
She said three separate bureaus would be lodged under the department focusing on different areas of disaster management, namely the bureau of disaster resilience; the bureau of disaster preparation and response; and the bureau of knowledge management and dissemination.
Another mandate of the department would be the relocation of those affected by calamities, Poe said.
“Halimbawa sa Tacloban, marami pa ring kailangan ilikas kaya lang bumabalik sapagkat wala namang tamang housing para sa kanilang paglilipatan. So yung relokasyon at yung pagkakaroon ng tamang plano sa paglilipatan ng ating mga kababayan ay mandato nila,” she explained.
(For example in Tacloban, there are still many residents that need to be evacuated, but they return to their homes because there are no proper housing. So the relocation and proper planning will also be the mandate of the department).
Under the measure, the proposed department will serve as the “response arm” while the NDRRMC will be the policy-making body.
“(Ang) NDRRMC (ay) mapapailalim dito sa DDREM. Pero yung NDRRMC parang policy-making body, pero ang pangulo ay kasama pa rin diyan bilang chairman tapos parang ang vice chairman diyan, yung magiging secretary,” she said.
(The NDRRMC will be placed under the DDREM.The NDRRMC will be the policy-making body. The president will be chairman and the vice chairman will be the department secretary).
The proposed department will also have regional offices, she added.
“Bawat rehiyon po ay magkakaroon ng local office nitong DDREM para naman pag merong disaster, alam na natin sigurado san yung mga relocation sites natin,” Poe said.
(Each region will have a DDREM local office so that in times of disaster, we know exactly where our relocation sites are).
The Senate Committee on National Defense conducted a hearing on the proposed creation of a disaster department on November 11 last year.
Two government officials, however, were apprehensive about the establishment of the proposed department, saying it might be “very overwhelming” to give all the responsibilities of disaster reduction risk and management such as prevention and mitigation to only one department.
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