THE country’s seat of government will shift to the province of Tarlac in case a catastrophe or a disaster worse than the recent massive flooding in the province of Cagayan or an earthquake similar in strength to the 9.5 magnitude that hit Chile in 1960 occurs in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Under Executive Order 119 signed by President Duterte on November 17, the “back-up government center” or administrative hub will shift to Tarlac’s New Clark City, where the Southeast Asian Games was held last year.
Under the executive order, Duterte ordered that a “National Government Administrative Center (NGAC)” be established in Capas, Tarlac which will be used as an “integrated government center outside the National Capital Region in case of disasters.”
All departments, bureaus, offices and agencies under the Executive branch of government shall likewise put up satellite offices at the New Clark City.
Duterte acknowledged that the NCR, where the seat of the national government is located, is “exposed to the threat of a catastrophic earthquake that may be caused by the movements of the West and East Valley Faults” while coastal communities within the region are “most vulnerable to subsidence, rising sea levels, and increase(d) risk of floods, resulting from climate change and contributory human activities.”
With the recent massive flooding experienced in Rizal and Marikina City, which are figuratively within arms’ length of Manila City where the Malacañan Palace is located, Duterte said it has become “urgent” that an integrated government center be set up outside the NCR to serve as a back-up or a substitute administrative hub and recovery center to ensure “the continuity of public services,” “facilitate collaboration and coordination between and among government agencies,” “foster the ease of doing business,” “provide equal access to efficient and effective delivery of services,” and “serve as a catalyst for the creation of new economic opportunities outside NCR”.
Under EO 119, government-owned or controlled corporation, independent constitutional bodies along with the legislative and judicial branches of government are also encouraged to put up their satellite offices at the NGAC premises.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Bases Conversion and development Authority were directed to oversee the setting up of the satellite offices of the national government, while departments that already have satellite offices near or within the vicinity of the NGAC may transfer their offices to the Center.
The EO reminded government leaders that the creation of the satellite offices is not a basis for the creation of “unnecessary redundant positions” and shall be limited to essential positions that are necessary to implement disaster contingency plans when needed.
Funding for the implementation of the transfers shall be sourced from the existing budget of the respective agencies.