By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe is seeking the creation of a new agency that would implement disaster risk reduction and management policies and programs in the country.
Poe, thru her Senate Bill 1735, pushed for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management, which shall be the authority in the policy-making, planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of programs relating to disaster risk reduction and management.
The senator cited the need to strengthen the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system and institutions, particularly the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
The NDRRMC was created through the Republic Act 10121 in 2010, after Typhoon Ondoy displaced 4.9 million families, and led to the declaration of a state of calamity in 23 provinces including Metro Manila.
Poe said that the impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, however, warrants the improvement of the country’s disaster risk reduction and management. It was considered the strongest typhoon that hit the country after it left 5,500 dead, 1.14 million houses destroyed and P24 billion worth of infrastructure and agricultural damages in the Visayas region.
“Typhoon Yolanda was clearly several orders of magnitude above Ondoy. Therefore, our institutions must adjust and be strengthened to be able to meet the ‘new normal’ set by Yolanda,” Poe said in her bill.
Under SB 1735, the NDRRMC shall be transferred from Department of National Defense to the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience and Emergency Management. The council, however, shall retain its functions under the RA 10121.
The proposed Department shall serve as the secretariat and Executive arm and covert the NDRRMC’s plan into “specific operational guidelines and programs.” It shall also have regional offices.
The Secretary of the proposed agency will serve as the NDRRMC’s chairperson.
The proposed Department shall have a National Emergency Response Corps, which would consist of trained individuals who could be deployed in events of disasters.
The proposed Department shall also be strengthened by bureaus on disaster resilience, disaster preparation and response, and knowledge management and dissemination.
The measure also pushes the establishment of a National Disaster Risk Deduction and Management Research and Training Center which shall be the repository of all knowledge and research and development.