A REELECTED solon has renewed his push for the establishment of a department focusing on disaster management following the latest natural calamity to hit the Philippines, a volcanic eruption in his home region Bicol.
Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, who authored a bill in the previous Congress on the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience, said
such an agency is necessary to ensure the national government’s capacity to provide help to local governments that deliver immediate responses.
“I’m sure Sorsogon can handle it,” he said, referring to the province where Mt. Bulusan, which erupted Sunday and spewed ash, is located.
“But what matters is we are able to bring back to the national conversation the need for an appropriate institution for national capacity [to respond to disasters] and general welfare,” Mr. Salceda said in a statement released late Monday.
He noted “that the Philippines has some of the largest number of disaster events in the whole world.”
The country, located along the Pacific typhoon belt, gets hit by an average of 20 typhoons annually. It is also vulnerable to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes being situated in the so-called Ring of Fire.
Mr. Salceda said he is optimistic that the proposed law will be passed under the incoming Congress with support from the administration of President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
“It does not need to be a full-fledged department,” he said.
Under the existing setup, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) serves as the main agency for emergency preparedness and response. It is under the Department of National Defense and is composed of various government and non-government organizations.
NDRRMC also serves as the overall coordinating agency for all local-level disaster management offices.
“What matters is, nothing surprises the national government’s capacity to respond to big, sudden emergencies that local government simply cannot handle on its own,” Mr. Salceda said.
The Department of Disaster Resilience bill was approved by the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress but its counterpart measure did not hurdle the Senate as several legislators questioned its practicality and the funding required for setting up another department. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan