House panel okays disaster dep’t

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    THE House committee on government reorganization yesterday approved the bill seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) which will be the lead agency in national efforts before, during, and after disasters.

    The panel chaired by Rep. Mario Vittorio Mariño approved the still unnumbered substitute bill following President Duterte’s call for the measure’s passage in his last state of the nation address last July.

    “It is high-time that we create a truly empowered department that will focus on natural hazards and disasters… as the country’s primary disaster management agency,” said House Bill No.1151 which served as the draft bill.

    The principal authors of HB 1151, majority leader Martin Romualdez, who chairs the House committee on rules, and his wife Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, thanked the panel for the expediting the measure’s passage.

    “A new Department of Disaster Resilience will effectively improve the institutional capacity of the government for disaster risk reduction and management, reduce the vulnerabilities surrounding the affected local population as well as build the resilience of local communities to both natural disasters and climate change,” they said.

    “Guaranteeing disaster resiliency through closer coordination and stronger management synchronization at all levels of the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system cannot be delayed any further,” they said.

    Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, also a principal author, said the DDR will be a full-blown department headed by a secretary, supported by undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and directors with an initial budget of P10 billion.

    The chair of the House committee on ways and means said the proposal seeks to place the following departments under DDR: the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Service Administration, the Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, and the Bureau of Fire Protection.