Senator Bong Go aims to consolidate and improve all government efforts to handle disasters and filed a bill that seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Senator Bong Go
Original photo from official Facebook page of Senator Bong Go

With one of his first bills that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, Go is eyeing to have an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.

The department shall concentrate on three key result areas: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.

“Sa pagpapatayo ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan, mas maibsan ang masamang epekto ng kalamidad para mas mabilis makabangon ang ating mga kababayan pagkatapos ng mga di inaasahang sakuna,” the legislator said.

The lawmaker has seen the plight of ordinary Filipinos during his visits to communities victimized by fire incidents and natural calamities.

“Kasama sa proseso ng paggawa ng mga batas ang pagbisita ko sa mga komunidad. Dito ko nakikita ang tunay na kalagayan ng mga tao at dito rin namin nalalaman kung ano ang kanilang mga hinaing na dapat aksyunan ng gobyerno ora mismo,” the senator said.

The bill is intended to repeal the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDDRMC) and mandated the Office of Civil Defense, an organization within the Department of National Defense, to be the council’s secretariat and coordinating arm.

Disaster-related responsibilities are currently shared among various government agencies. The bill states that the DDR will be assigned to “be primarily responsible for ensuring safe, adaptive, and disaster-resilient communities.”

He was prompted to file the bill because “the Philippines’ experiences with natural disasters . . . have shown that the existing laws, policies, resources, and institutional arrangements governing disaster management lacked responsiveness to the country’s requirements for disaster resilience.”

“I hope efforts in improving disaster resilience in the country would also lead to construction of better evacuation centers.”

In an interview after filing the bill, Go added that he was hoping the efforts in improving disaster resilience in the country would also lead to construction of better evacuation centers.

“Marami pong nangyayaring mga bagyo sa atin, mga lindol, at minsan po talaga wala tayong maayos na evacuation center at coordination,” Go said.

“It is time to have orderly, clean and safe evacuation centers.”

He also recalled an accident that occurred when a typhoon hit the country. “May pinuntahan ako sa Mountain Province. Mismong ang tinulugan ng mga biktima ang gumuho. Hindi safe ang evacuation center na pinaglagyan sa kanila. Panahon na para magkaroon tayo ng mga evacuation center na maayos, malinis, at safe hanggang makauwi ang mga biktima sa kanilang mga tirahan.”

Go’s bill also introduces a system of classification on the levels of the needed preparedness and response and who is responsible for each level, from the municipal or city mayor to the secretary of the DDR.

The DDR will also focus on natural disasters only. Currently, NDDRMC responds even to human-induced disasters. The bill states that the two kinds of disasters require different approaches, and the DDR must have “a highly specialized set of personnel, resources and policies to bring about disaster resilience.”

He filed the bill creating the DDR along with nine other bills, including the institutionalization of the Malasakit Center and the creation of a Department of Overseas Filipinos.

As part of his legislative agenda aimed at helping the Duterte administration achieve positive genuine change felt by all Filipinos, Go personally filed his first 10 legislative measures at the Senate and is set to file more.

“Inuna ko po ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipinong pinaka-nangangailangan ng atensyon mula sa gobyerno. Para ito sa mga may sakit, mga ordinaryong manggagawa, mga biktima ng kalamidad, at mga kabataan na pagasa ng ating bayan. Ito ang serbisyong ipinangako ko sa inyo, serbisyo at pagmamalasakit na ramdam kahit saang dako ng bansa,” Go stressed.

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