Senate to prioritize creation of Department of Disaster Resilience
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will prioritize the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019 when it resumes its session on Monday.
“Coming from a long break when devastating typhoons, earthquakes, and the Taal [Volcano] eruption struck the country successively, we will do our best to pass vital legislation, foremost of which is the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019 filed by at least ten senators,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.
According to the senator, the Office of Civil Defense, which serves as the implementing arm of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), is “stretched to the limit.”
“We need to create an agency that is quick-footed, scientific, focused and well-equipped,” Zubiri said. “The creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience will ensure a more efficient, coordinated, and complete system of disaster management — from risk assessment to emergency response right down to reintegration assistance and rehabilitation.”
Natural disasters that have struck the country since late 2019 include the powerful October and December quakes in Mindanao, Typhoons Tisoy and Ursula (internationally known as Kammuri and Phanfone, respectively) that devastated the central Philippines, and the ongoing unrest of Taal Volcano, which remains at Alert Level 4.
“We cannot stop natural calamities, but we can prepare for them,” Zubiri said. “And with disaster preparedness and resiliency, we can minimize losses in terms of human lives and properties,”
He added: “Let us not wait for the next one to hit before we take action.”
In November 2019, Senate President Vicente Sotto III raised the possibility of approving the proposal to create the Department of Disaster Resilience before the Senate takes its Christmas break. However, this did not push through.