After Abra quake, Dep’t. of Disaster Resilience creation gets House support
MANILA, Philippines — The passage of bills creating the Department of Disaster Resilience is also being pushed in the House of Representatives, with lawmakers stressing that the strong magnitude 7 earthquake in Abra proved the need to have such an agency.
Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte said in a statement Wednesday — a day after the earthquake struck the northern side of Luzon — that disasters can be managed and addressed better if the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) is present, as it will be the central agency to coordinate response and rehabilitation efforts.
Duterte said he and other lawmakers including Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, Quezon City Rep. Ralph Tulfo, and ACT-CIS Reps. Edvic Yap, Jocelyn Tulfo, and Jeffrey Soriano have filed House Bill No. 452 which seeks to create the DDR.
“We should emphasize the science-based aspect of this proposal. With the Philippines among the countries most vulnerable to the destructive effects of climate change, science and technology should play a key role in helping us prepare for possible disasters,” Duterte said.
“If we are to create a Department of Disaster Resilience, we should make it a strong, dependable agency by employing the latest technologies available. This will ensure that the DDR will be efficient and effective in performing its task of being the country’s main disaster management agency,” he added.
Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Alfred delos Santos meanwhile warned that the strong earthquake, which was felt as far as Metro Manila and some Southern Luzon provinces, should be the last reminder for Congress to act on the DDR bills.
Delos Santos said he was co-author of the DDR bill in the 18th Congress, which was not passed because of time constraints.
“This strong earthquake that struck us should be the last reminder to Congress on the urgent necessity of creating the Department of Disaster Resilience,” he said.
“I was a co-author of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill during the 18th Congress. It was approved on third and final reading; so, I add my voice in agreement to the fast track approach to bills that the House previously approved on third and final reading,” he added.
The House last September 2020 — during the 18th Congress — approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act. However, former Senate president Vicente Sotto III said last January 2022 that the said bill may not be passed on time as the proposed measure still needs to go through “heavy interpellation”.
In the Senate, the creation of a body for disaster resilience is also being pushed with Senator Imee Marcos, sister of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., suggesting one modeled after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States to be under the Office of the President.
The Marcoses hail from the Ilocos Region, which was also hit by the strong earthquake with Abra as epicenter.
Other lawmakers like Senators Bong Go and Grace Poe have also renewed calls for the establishment of the DDR.
Extensive damage has been reported in different areas in the highlands of the Cordillera and nearby regions, after the strong movement on Wednesday morning. Earlier, the Department of Education said 35 schools in Abra were damaged by the quake, while over 8,000 other schools were also affected.
The earthquake killed five people in Abra, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.
As of Thursday morning, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said over 800 aftershocks have been recorded already after the magnitude 7.3 quake.