House approves disaster resilience dep’t bill

By Delon Porcalla – The Philippine Star

The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading yesterday the Palace-backed measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), replacing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The plenary voted 181-5 with two abstentions in approving House Bill 8165, which seeks to create the DDR.

Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez, one of the main authors of the measure, lauded the bill’s approval.

Under the bill, the DDR is solely dedicated to concerns on disaster mitigation and quick response, which also guarantees fast and responsive procurement process to ensure swift assistance.

“I thank my colleagues and Speaker Gloria MacapagalArroyo for their commitment to pass the DDR, which guarantees a unity of command, science-based approach and focuses on natural hazards and disasters,” Romualdez said.

Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, who co-authored the measure, said the trail of death and destruction left by Typhoon Ompong – the strongest to hit the country this year – underscored the importance to pass the bill with dispatch.

“A new Cabinet-level department would put in place and oversee disaster preparation, risk management and post-disaster relief and rehabilitation operations in lieu of the ad hoc nature of current government efforts, which has now become untenable with climate change,” he said.

Villafuerte also backed President Duterte’s directive to build permanent evacuation centers instead of converting public schools into temporary shelters for calamity victims.

“With permanent evacuation centers, the government can better achieve its zero-casualty goals as the DDR could go full-blast on preemptive evacuation, especially of the people in coastal and mountainous villages,” Villafuerte said.

The DDR will be the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national government’s effort to respond to disasters.

It will also oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs and activities.

House Bill 8165 was sponsored and defended by Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, former chairman of the committee on reorganization, which together with the committee on national defense jointly passed the measure on July 31.

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