29.6 C
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Disaster responses

- Advertisement -

In his State of the Nation Address in July, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed the need for the creation of a separate department to handle disaster efforts.

Disaster responses

Now, in the aftermath of Typhoon “Ompong,” the people are reminded of how urgent, and how overdue, the measure is.

A bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience was earlier on filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda. It is now pending in Congress.

A new department will address the age-old inadequacies of ad hoc, miscoordinated efforts to help those affected by disasters. In the past, for instance, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council convened only when there was a disaster in the horizon.

The law that created this body, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, sought to introduce four key areas in dealing with disasters. It designated a department in charge of each of the areas—mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery—and emphasized the importance of participation by multiple stakeholders. This means that not only government but the academe and civil society should be involved.

But while it already put some structure into handling disaster efforts, the prior set-up still left much to be desired. Parallel agencies did similar work separately and sometimes applied them to the same locations, while leaving some places unattended to.

There is no question about what needs to be done. All officials, we assume, want to protect their constituents from the perils of natural disasters. They want to keep loss of lives and damage to assets to a minimum. They also want to enable their people to recover from disaster and rebuild their lives as soon as possible.

The “how,” however, makes all the difference.

The pending law and the resulting agency should contain improvements over the observed flaws and weaknesses in previous arrangements. It should include valid points made by all stakeholders especially those with firsthand experience at disaster work. Finally it should achieve the feat of smooth, if not seamless, workflow in the event of disaster, with personalities and politics playing a minor role compared to the higher order of saving lives.

Disasters are a reality we must come to terms with. They will not go away, and in fact are only bound to get more intense and more frequent. Old approaches will no longer apply. We cannot prevent disasters from happening, but we can prevent our nation from being hostage to them, and dealing with them, well, disastrously.


Popular Articles