MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
With 181 affirmative votes, five negative votes and two abstentions, the lower chamber passed House Bill 8165 titled the “Department of Disaster Resilience Act,” which is a legislative priority of the Duterte administration.
Under the bill, the DDR will be the national government agency primarily responsible for disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.
"The Department shall be the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for, and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters," the bill read.
The bill also proposes the creation of a National Disaster Resilience Council (NDRC), which shall serve as the policy advisory body to the Department on disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation.
Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, principal author, said it is high time to create a Department of Disaster Resilience that will effectively reduce the country's vulnerability to natural hazards and bolster the country's resilience to the impact of national disasters and climate change.
“Guaranteeing disaster resiliency through closer coordination and stronger management synchronization at all levels of the country's disaster risk reduction and management system cannot be delayed any further. With the lives, safety and the welfare of our people at stake," Romualdez said.
Romualdez appealed to the Senate to also fast-track the passage of the DDR bill as this would help drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, the bureaucratic red tape that has caused several delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by disaster and calamity victims.
Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, sponsor of the measure, stressed the need to create an "able, fully equipped and responsive department" that will prepare and lead the nation to cope with both rapid- and slow-onset catastrophic events.
"The bill at hand is a concrete step towards transforming what was once an ad hoc, coordinative, and reactive response to disaster risk management, to one that anchors climate and disaster resilience to the very foundations of sustainable development," Romualdo said.
"The bill creates a Cabinet-level agency that builds a culture of resilience, organizes and strengthens the nation to face catastrophic events, and reduces the complexity of responding to the threats of current and future climate and disaster risks," Romualdo added.
Romualdo said the bill highlights the "whole-of-government, whole-of-nation, and whole-of-society approach" to disaster resiliency efforts through convergence of efforts by the government and stakeholders.
"The holistic approach to disasters ought not to be the sole responsibility of government. It needs a multi-stakeholder approach and strong partnership so we can achieve a disaster-resilient culture," he said.
The proposed department shall ensure seamless synergy and coordination with stakeholders -- including civil society organizations (CSOs), academe, and the private sector -- in relation to disaster resilience programs and projects and the development and promotion of research, education, and training mechanisms with relevant stakeholders.
A multi-stakeholders convergence unit shall also be established to align the disaster resilience efforts of the private sector, CSOs, academe, and other stakeholders with the department, by assisting, coordinating or providing services that strengthen public-private cooperation and coordination in disaster resilience.
The bill also seeks the establishment of a Climate and Disaster Research, Education and Training Institute, which shall serve as a world-class center of excellence for learning and research in the field of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management and climate change adaptation. (PNA)