New department for disaster management bucked | Inquirer News

New department for disaster management bucked

'ELEVATE' NDRRMC, NO TO 'CANNIBALIZING AGENCIES INTO ONE ENTITY
/ 07:55 PM January 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — At least four government officials on Wednesday pointed out that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) should just be “elevated” instead of “cannibalizing” several agencies involved in disaster management by lodging them into one department.

“Maybe not necessarily making it one full department, but elevating the NDRRMC,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told the Senate committee on national defense, which conducted a hearing on bills proposing the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience.

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He said the NDRRMC should be strengthened and that the law that created it should just be amended to improve coordination among local government units (LGUs) in responding to disasters.

“Recent disasters have shown that an inter-LGU can be flattened and rendered incapable of responding to its needs and the other LGUs should be allowed to assist affected LGUs in furtherance of the inter-local government relations that is enshrined in the local government code,” Año pointed out.

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“But right now in the NDRRMC, wala pong ganon (there’s nothing like it), because [our] structure [at the] PDRRMC and the municipal DRRMC and so on, so wala pong (there’s no) inter-provincial, inter-municipal, so those are the things that we would like to amend in our NDRRMC law,” he added.

In a separate interview with reporters after the hearing, Año said it seemed that there was an agreement among those present that the NDRRMC’s should be elevated from its current level.

But he said that there might be “more advantages” if the NDRRMC would be elevated to an authority rather than a separate department.

“So a plus to one is a minus to other departments. Then there will be some overlapping also of functions and probably some conflict in existing laws. So the job of the lawmakers is to harmonize everything,” he added.

There are at least 14 senators who filed a bill seeking the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience.

Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said he “would prefer that we maintain the NDRRMC.”

“Honestly, I believe that we have to give a chance to the NDRRMC because it has been there for just a couple of years,” he told the Senate panel.

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“And we can see that in recent occurrences of disasters, it is the President himself who said that he’s satisfied with the way the coordination and response [were] done,” he added.

Among the agencies proposed to be put under the Department of Disaster Resilience are the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

“We definitely would like for Phivolcs and Pagasa to remain with the DOST because they are actually science organizations and they actually are part of the other institutions within our system or research and development institutions,” Dela Peña pointed out.

For his part, Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said that “simply coordinating things will not solve the problem.”

“If you look at what is needed in the Philippines are disaster risk managers and disaster managers. These are the core competencies that we need in the new department and that is what we lack,” he said.

“We cannot do this by simply staying with the same structure. We need to train people that would be the leader in disaster risk management and disaster management and the DOST agencies are not those,” he added.

Defense Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad. echoing Año, said the current structure of the NDRRMC should just be strengthened.

Jalad is the concurrent administrator of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and executive director of the NDRRMC.

“[Strenghten the] current structure. [Centrally, at the] NDRRMC [the] OCD headed by (an undersecretary) [is already there]. [It’s the] overall orchestrator…,” he said.

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TAGS: Department of Disaster Resilience, disaster management, Nation, News, Senate committee on national defense
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