Amid the clamor of several lawmakers for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to oversee disaster management, Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday said it would be better to revisit and strengthen the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2011 (RA 10121) first before creating a separate department.
In a radio interview, Lacson pointed out that RA 10121, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), has a sunset provision which states that the law should be revisited within five years, or as the need arises to assess its accomplishments, as well as its defects, to legislate amendments to ensure its effectiveness.
The review should have been done in 2016. But until now, a joint congressional oversight committee that would conduct the review as provided by law has not yet been constituted. It's long overdue, he said, noting that problems faced by the NDRRMC could have been addressed if the law is reviewed.
He said foremost among them is the lack of a dedicated office, as the Council is composed of Cabinet members.
But the implementing arm of the NDRRMC is the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), which Lacson noted, seconds its personnel from its mother agency, the Department of National Defense (DND).
Karamihan casual. Eh ang organization nila down to municipal, or ang iba regional at provincial. So ganoon kahirap ang trabaho. Bago maka-react sa kalamidad papunta sa rehab and reconstruction, napakatagal (They are mostly casual employees. But their responsibility is down to the municipal level, or regional and provincial. That's how difficult their work is. It takes a lot of time before they can react to a calamity up to rehabilitation and reconstruction), Lacson said.
The senator said when session resumes on Monday (Jan. 20), he will make a manifestation on plenary to urge the Senate to constitute its panel in the joint oversight committee for RA 10121 for the overdue review.
We can the coordinate with the House of Representatives for them to constitute their own panel so that we can already start reviewing the NDRRMC law, Lacson said.
Better than creating another department
Lacson said this would be better than creating a separate DDR, which would create its own problems in funding and personnel requirements.
Hee said the creation of many departments is inconsistent with the policy of President Rodrigo Duterte on rightsizing.
We have just created the Department of Human Settlements, the Department of Information and Communications Technology. There are also proposals for a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers. So there goes the inconsistency sa policy. Ano ba talaga gusto natin? Gusto natin mag-rightsize pero gusto nating mag-create ng katakot-takot na department (What do we want? We want to rightsize but we also want to create a lot of departments), Lacson said.
However, he clarified that he is not against any proposal to create a DDR, only that he is concerned that the budgetary requirements for creating a new department might eat up resources meant for social services.
Ang concern ko sa pag-create ng department, magkano ang kakailanganin naman sa national budget para tustusan ang bagong department na kayang gawin ng isang office at ginagawa na rin ng OCD kaya lang walang ngipin (My only concern in creating a department, how much is needed from the national budget to fund the new department whose work could be done by just one office, which is already being done by the OCD although it has no teeth)? Lacson said.
With 1.4 million government employees and constant salary increases, baka mapunta lang sa sweldo ng (the national budget might just go to the salaries of the) national government. Walang maiwan para sa (Nothing will be left for) development, social services, education, health, lahat (everything else), he said.
Rather than create a DDR, he suggested the creation of a permanent office to oversee disaster management, with OCD as its nucleus.
Sila na ang (They would be the) dedicated office. Wala nang (No more) council. Anyway, pag Cabinet meeting naman kinokonsulta ng Pangulo ang iba't ibang departments involved sa different phases ng disaster management (during Cabinet meetings, the President always consults the different departments involved in the different phases of disaster management), Lacson said.
Source: Philippines News Agency