Budget concerns over DDR? ‘Find the funding, don’t deny the problem,’ says Salceda
MANILA, Philippines — As some senators raise concerns over additional funding requirements for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said the government can “find the funds” for the new agency.
Salceda, the principal author of the House bill proposing the creation of the new disaster response agency, said the government can be “efficient” in funding the department.
“We can be efficient in funding the DDR. We can find the funds for the new agency. But, if the problem is funding, then let’s find the funding, and not deny the problem,” Salceda said in a statement on Tuesday.
“You know fully well that I am continuously raising funds for the national government through tax policy reforms. But, institutionalizing disaster response is not a mere option for the country. We have to do it,” the lawmaker, who also chairs the House committee on ways and means, added.
Salceda’s remarks came after Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon raised questions over the creation of a new department, asking if there will be “proper” funding for it.
Lacson said that according to the Department of Budget and Management, at least P1.5 billion is needed to set up the department.
This amount Lacson said does not yet include additional salaries, capital outlay like office facilities, furniture, vehicles, and maintenance and other operating expenses, among others.
“It is relatively easy to pass a law creating new departments. But would it be feasible, and will there be proper funding for it?” Lacson said.
But Salceda said such criticism “misses the point.”
“The proposal for a Department of Disaster Resilience does not merely create an agency. It institutionalizes disaster preparedness, response, and future-proofing as a national responsibility with an institutionalized framework,” Salceda said.
“The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is exactly what it sounds – a council, merely ad-hoc and coordinative in nature,” he added.
Salceda recalled his experience as the governor of Albay where they institutionalized their own Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), an office that created a culture of preparedness in the province.
“The point is disaster preparedness should no longer be relegated to the reaches of the bureaucracy. The head of disaster preparedness should be able to propose measures straight within the Cabinet and towards the President,” Salceda said.
“The logistical operation that is disaster response, and the complex planning that is required in disaster preparedness is simply too important to be consigned to a mere coordinating body,” he added.
The House has already passed on final reading its own version of the measure.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has likewise urged the Senate to prioritize the passage of the DDR bill in the wake of the recent storms that hit the country.
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