Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles called on Congress to fast track the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), noting that the recent series of earthquakes that struck Mindanao and other natural calamities that hit other parts of the country required full-time, Cabinet-level attention.

“We cannot predict the occurrence of disasters. They are not conveniently timed to happen when we fully anticipate them, even with the best of precautions. We always need to be prepared at the national level to address relief and rescue situations created by earthquakes, typhoons and other natural forces.”

According to Nograles, the need to institutionally address these occurrences is what spurred President Rodrigo Duterte to insist that the two houses of Congress urgently consider the passage of a law creating a Department of Disaster Resilience.

“We always need to be prepared at the national level to address relief and rescue situations.”

“It just so happened that the recent strong earthquakes occurred in Mindanao, where the President and I come from, but the idea was already being considered by our Chief Executive for some time now,” revealed the former Davao lawmaker.

A bill creating the DDR was passed at the House of Representatives during the previous Congress. It encountered challenges in the Senate, however, when questions relating to budget were raised at the upper chamber.

The proposal for a Cabinet-level department for disasters has long been cited by the President, even mentioning it during one State of the Nation address. 

Nograles said that the Duterte administration was hoping the proposal would be acted upon during the present 18th Congress.

“The DDR is a comprehensive, long-overdue solution to a recurring problem, given our country’s location and geography.”

“If there is a dedicated, independent department that solely addresses disaster response and mitigation, we’re assured of bigger resources and greater coordination between various government agencies when disasters, unpredictable as they are, strike. The key here is preparation, planning and proper education of the public,” the Cabinet Secretary stressed.

Nograles added that the Philippines is located in the world’s “Ring of Fire” region and a regular typhoon belt.

“The efforts of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are commendable year in and year out, but we urgently need a Cabinet-level bureaucracy that handles disaster matters.”

As such, Nograles urged members of the legislature to prioritize the DDR measure.

“Let’s not wait for the next calamity to happen, which is sure to cause damage to both human lives and to property. The DDR is a comprehensive, long-overdue solution to a recurring problem, given our country’s location and geography.”

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