Go, Poe renew calls for Dept. of Disaster Risk Resilience after Abra earthquake
MANILA, Philippines — Senators Bong Go and Grace Poe on Wednesday renewed calls for the establishment of the proposed Department of Disaster Risk Resilience (DRR) after a strong earthquake jolted Abra province and other parts of Luzon.
For Go, the establishment of the DRR would allow the government to have a “Cabinet secretary-level department” whose primary tasks include ensuring the rapid recovery and rehabilitation of calamity-hit communities and extending immediate assistance.
“This event, once again makes our long-running clamor for the establishment of the DRR relevant. ‘Immediate return to normalcy’ ang isa sa pinakamahalagang magiging mandato ng itatatag na DDR,” he said in a statement.
Go also called on his fellow legislators to pass his Mandatory Evacuation Center bill which requires the establishment of evacuation centers in every province nationwide.
“Hindi ako titigil na ipaglaban ang mga panukalang batas na ito dahil pinakaimportante sa lahat ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino. Huwag na nating hintayin na may iba pang sakuna o trahedya na mangyari,” Go said.
(I won’t stop fighting for this bill because the life of every Filipino is most important. Let’s not wait for other casualties or tragedies to happen).
For her part, Poe emphasized the need for the government to manifest its presence “through a swift, coordinated response in providing for their immediate needs,” especially in times of calamities.
With this, she also renewed the call for the establishment of a similar department called Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Assistance and Management.
This proposed department, she said, will serve as the “first responder during calamities.”
“The proposed body will also efficiently plan and collaborate with concerned agencies and local government units on disaster mitigation and management,” Poe said in a separate statement.
“Our people especially in vulnerable communities should not suffer more in the face of calamities,” she added.
Boost regional disaster resilience and response efforts
Neophyte senator Robin Padilla, meanwhile, said the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit Abra on Wednesday morning should serve as a wake-up call for the government to further empower regional disaster resilience and response efforts in the country.
“Siguro, palakasin muna natin. Kasi meron na tayong mga regional disaster (response), nandiyan na sila. Palakasin natin sila, bigyan ng pondo. Ang gusto ko lang imungkahi palagi, bigyan natin ng kalayaan ang regional na magdesisyon [para] sa sarili nila. Kasi ang pagresponde depende kung kaninong teritoryo. Kung sino taga-doon, mas alam nila,” Padilla told reporters outside the Senate building in Pasay City on Wednesday.
(What we should strengthen first is our regional disaster response. Beef up funding if needed. Give them the autonomy to make decisions because they are the ones most familiar with their areas of responsibility.)
He also noted that the existing laws which help prepare Filipinos for natural disasters need to be ramped up, especially since the Philippines is vulnerable to such calamities.
“Kailangan po natin magdagdag [ang pagiging handa],” the lawmaker said. “May magandang panukala ang ating mahal na Pangulong Marcos na magkaroon ng medical [reserve] corps. Bukod po yun sa pagmandato sa [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps].”
(We must be more prepared. President Marcos’ call for a medical reserve corps and mandated ROTC will be needed.”
Several legislators in the lower chamber have recently filed a similar measure, pushing for the establishment of this department.
Padilla also said the Medical Reserve Corps and mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) would be a big help in similar cases — as mentioned by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday.
“Kailangan po natin magdagdag (ang pagiging handa). May magandang panukala ang ating mahal na Pangulong Marcos na magkaroon ng medical (reserve) corps,” Padilla said.
(We must be more prepared. President Marcos’ call for a medical reserve corps and mandated ROTC will be needed).
“Bukod po yun sa pagmandato sa ROTC. Kailangan natin gawin yan at ganoon din dati noong 18th Congress, alam ko na-filed ito ni Sen. Bong Go, na mahandaan sa ganitong mga disaster. Siyempre sa climate change di natin maiwasan ito lalo na ang Pilipinas, lagi tayong tinatamaan,” Padilla added.
(Also during the 18th Congress, Sen. Bong Go filed a bill stressing the need for disaster resilience. We need such measures especially now that we are feeling the effects of climate change)
Check integrity of structures in quake-hit areas
For his part, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) to check the integrity of infrastructures in the areas affected by the strong quake, in a release.
“Safety is the most important concern now. We need to ensure the integrity of our infrastructure – bridges; houses; and buildings, including schools and hospitals,” Revilla said in a separate statement.
“May mga reports na may mga apektadong linya ng kuryente, at hindi malayong may mga strukturang naapektuhan ng pagyanig,” Revilla added.
(There are reports that there were affected electricity circuits and probably, there are structures affected by the quake).
Revilla, the newly elected chairperson of the Senate committee on public works, said that it is the responsibility of the DPWH to assure the public that structures are safe after the earthquake.
“They should not waste time. Baka kung ano pang sakuna ang mangyari kung hindi agarang mainspeksyon ang mga struktura,” he ended.
(They should not waste time. Further damages may happen if there is no immediate inspection of structures.)
The magnitude 7.3 quake at 8:43 A.M. was recorded with an epicenter in Abra, Cordillera Administrative Region, by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). –Andy Hoo, INQUIRER.net intern