Sen. Grace Poe made a fresh pitch for the review of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (PDRRMA) to ensure that the law can meet the challenges of protecting the people from the staggering and fatal effects of natural disasters and other calamities.
Poe said it is high time the government creates a separate, full-time, permanent Cabinet-level disaster resilience and emergency management agency that will serve as the focal agency for integrated disaster resilience, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and emergency management.
"Seven years after the implementation of the law, are we safer and better prepared?" Poe asked.
Because of the recent history of powerful typhoons and strong quakes hitting the country, the senator said it is imperative for the government to consider new and innovative measures to prevent similar damages in the future.
"Before next time comes, we have to protect the country and our people," Poe said.
The law mandates the congressional oversight committee to conduct a sunset review within five years after its effectivity, or as the need arises. The PDRRMA, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, took effect in 2010.
Poe has filed Senate Resolution No. 100 in August last year seeking for the law's review.
This year, powerful earthquakes have struck several parts of the country, the most recent of which was the series of tremor in Ormoc, Leyte, which flattened houses and displaced families.
The lone fatality in Ormoc was a 19-year-old mother, Rhissa Rosales, who took the brunt of the falling debris while protecting her baby. Poe has extended financial assistance to the woman's family and the baby she left behind, while expressing sympathies.*
"Climate change is a reality and is upon us," she said. "Given the frequency of these extreme weather situations the Philippines has experienced, for us to just sit here and think that this is not going to happen again would be shortsightedness."
In her resolution, Poe said that the NDRRMC remains an ad hoc council and operates mainly under the structure of its predecessor, the National Disaster Coordinating Council. As a consequence, active operations occur in disaster and post-disaster operations, but are lacking during pre-disaster phase, which is vital as it includes capacity-building of personnel and completion of adaptability mechanisms for the next disaster.
As an adhoc council, it is also hounded by difficulties of getting full-time, professional local and national disaster risk reduction and management personnel with the necessary technical expertise to address pre- and post-disaster needs.
When established as a separate and permanent agency, it will have the ability to coordinate and implement disaster risk reduction and management programs and projects; exercise centralized management over its database, adequate and competent manpower and sufficient financial resources.
"The independence of the proposed agency is a necessity to enable us to resolve problems that have accumulated throughout the country's recent catastrophes, most notably the new normal brought about by Typhoon Yolanda, which all point to the need for a strong and independent regulator and monitoring body that will ensure the accountability of duty-bearers in the performance of disaster risk reduction and management duties," Poe said.
Source: Senate of the Philippines