SGMA pushes for creation of disaster management department

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has pushed for the creation of a Department on Disaster Management, citing the need for a full-time Cabinet official to deal with the logistical requirements of preparing for calamities.

SGMA pushes for creation of disaster management department

Speaking to media at the sidelines of the recent distribution of relief goods to typhoon victims in Marilao, Bulacan, Arroyo noted that while she is satisfied with the work of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the agency has limitations.

She has filed House Bill 8165, which was approved on third reading last Oct. 1 and transmitted to the Senate, where six similar bills are sitting with the upper chamber’s Committee on National Defense and Security.

Within the House, the Speaker has helped create the Committee on Disaster Management, currently chaired by Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman.

Appearing recently at the committee’s second meeting since its formation, Arroyo said the group has to start moving to perform its oversight functions so that the implementation of the government’s rehabilitation and reconstruction plans can be attended to, and help the executive department focus on its execution problems.

“For instance in the Marawi (City) rehabilitation, my questions anyway, were mostly about the implementation, because that is now what I am asking the committee members to focus on,” said the Speaker.

The House Committee on Disaster Management’s jurisdiction includes all matters directly and principally relating to disaster and calamities, whether natural or man-made, as well as policies, plans, programs and projects related to disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management.

That includes disaster preparedness and resiliency, relief and rescue, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Currently, the House Committee on Disaster Management is preparing to conduct its ocular inspection of Ground Zero in Marawi City this month to determine the progress of rehabilitation and to facilitate the construction of the first batch of houses for the displaced residents.

Arroyo earlier pointed out that the NDRRMC is headed by the defense secretary who also has other tasks.

“Look at who is the head of the coordinating council? Secretary [Delfin] Lorenzana. Well, he is busy fighting insurgency, he’s busy fighting terrorism, so how can he be there full time? So now what happened is, because the typhoon is gonna hit the north, four (Cabinet) secretaries are there,” she said.

Arroyo said a full-time cabinet secretary focusing on disaster resiliency will not have the limitations of the NDRRMC.

“If there was a full-time secretary then you don’t need four secretaries to be there so they’re doing as best they can. I’m satisfied with what [the NDRRMC] doing within the limitations of a coordinating council but this really proves we should have a disaster department,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte called on Congress during his third State of the Nation Address to form a body that would focus on risk reduction in times of natural hazards and disasters using a science-based approach.

“We need a truly empowered department characterized by a unity of command, science-based approach, and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters,” Duterte said.

“We in the Cabinet have approved for immediate endorsement to Congress the passage of a law creating the Department of Disaster Management, an inter-agency,” he added.

Topics: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo , Department on Disaster Management , National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
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