By Ben Rosario
Confused and bewildered about details on typhoon ‘”Ompong”s, former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo admitted her experience on Friday provided a strong justification for the creation of a new government department solely in charge of the country’s disaster preparedness and resilience program.
“We were clueless where the typhoon was going to hit so because it is a coordinating council so we based it where there are no classes, where it has been announced no classes. Marilao, Obando in Bulacan. It turns out it’s east of Aurora,” Arroyo told news reporters.
Arroyo distributed relief goods to more than 1,000 Marilao families who were affected by the “habagat” (west monsoon rains) and to prepare them for the approaching supertyphoon Ompong yesterday.
The House leader underscored the need to create the Department of Disaster Resilience which is currently debated in the Lower House plenary, saying that addressing national disaster preparedness and response concerns.
“We should have gone to Aurora but we did not know,” said Arroyo, adding that they were not aware of Ompong’s directiion when they prepared the relief goods the other day.
“If there is a disaster management department, they would have better information and they can prepare better,” she added.
Further, the former chief executive stressed that the proposed department can be expected to acquire better equipment, apparently in terms of communications, transportation and heavy-duty disaster control tools and gear.
She pointed out that while the Department of Social Welfare Development has enough relief goods and food to distribute, it lacks transportation to ensure delivery.
“A disaster management department would have everything so what happened? The DSWD had to borrow the truck from the mayor of Meycauayan, the husband of Cong. Villarica,“ she explained, referring to Deputy Speaker Linabelle Villarica and her husband, Mayor Henry Villarica.
Unfortunatley, the truck bogged down and belatedly arrived at the distribution venue.
“I mean these are the logistical problems when you have only a coordinating council and disasters happen to us all the time especially with climate change,” she said.
House bill 8165 seeking to create a Department of Disaster Resilience is up for second reading approval in the Lower House.
A consolidation of 42 bills and five resolutions, HB 8165 proposes the DDR to be the primary government agency responsible for managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, manage preparations for natural calamities and lead the response, recovery and rehabilitation efforts for victims.
Principal authors included Reps. Winston Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Isidro Rodriguez Jr. (NPC, Rizal); Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (LDP, Aurora); Alfred Vargas (PDP-Laban, Quezon City); Michael Romero and Enrico Pineda (1Pacman Party-list); Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna); Yedda Marie Romualdez (Lakas-CMD, Leyte) ; Victoria Isabel Noel (An Waray Party-list) and Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon Party-list).