The vast destruction wrought by Typhoon “Tisoy” and the widescale misery it inflicted on thousands of Filipinos, aside from the casualties it left behind, should now compel Congress to pass, this time without hitches, the bill creating the Department of Disaster Resilience.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and principal author of the DDR proposal, said in a TV interview the Philippines had “suffered enough actual and potential losses, damages and disruption due to the increasing frequency of ferocious climate events.”
“The government should now be decisive in creating a full department to effectively carry out programs required to address the threats, respond to disasters and develop the culture of resilience needed for survival,” he added.
Tisoy lashed the country early this week, made landfall in Albay and neighboring Sorsogon with 175 to 230-kilometer-per-hour winds, the strongest so far in years, leaving a wide swath of destruction in its wake across southern Luzon and northern Visayas.
Among those heavily devastated was the Legazpi City Domestic Airport located in Albay’s Salceda’s second district, which prompted the lawmaker to seek the help of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Department of Transportation for the immediate restoration and resumption of flights within the week.
Both CAAP chief Jim Sydiongco and DOTr Sec. Arthur Tugade have pledged to immediately send a team to assist in the immediate resumption of flights.
The Legazpi Domestic Airport is “the face of Albay and Legazpi City, so it should not become the image of Tisoy’s destruction but the icon of Albay resilience.”
Albay was a model for “zero casualty” and disaster resilience when Salceda was its governor for nine years, gaining recognition from the United Nations. It registered a zero casualty record in 2014 during the onslaught of Typhoon “Glenda,” amid reports of numerous casualties and injuries elsewhere. The principle was adopted subsequently by the national government.
The successes of Albay’s disaster risk reduction (DDR) program became the template for Salceda’s DDR bill in Congress, which the lower house intends to pass within the year.
“Zero Casualty is not statistics. It is a body of commitment that ensures nobody falls by the wayside due to poverty, exposure, or even stubbornness. The Zero Casualty goal could be attained successfully, citing the Albay example, when the people’s own effort of taking care of themselves has become routinary as taking a bath or eating. It is the same culture of resilience that is the core principle of the DDR proposal,” he stressed.
Salceda said continuous training had made Albayanos aware of the risks in time of disasterd and have made adapt to the culture of resilience. The proposed DDR ― marked urgent by President Duterte himself ― is a full-blown department headed by a Secretary and supported by undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors.
It is tasked to lead in the “continuous development of strategic, holistic and systematic approaches to disaster management, including preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery and rehabilitation, and anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques and options,” he explained.
As an urgent policy response, it enjoins a whole-of-government, whole-of-nation and whole-of-society mobilization on disaster and climate emergency, in behalf of climate-vulnerable LGUs, communities and stakeholders in the country, Salceda added.
The bill, which was passed recently by the government reorganization panel, proposes a ‘joint operational supervision’ over four agencies vital to disaster risk reduction; Pagasa, Phivolcs, the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau and the Bureau of Fire Protection, in lieu of attaching them to the DDR.
The House passed the DDR proposal in the 17th Congress but the Senate failed to pass its version because of time constraints imposed by the 2018 national elections.
Public clamor for the measure ensued following a series of earthquake devastations in Mindanao, and most recently by Typhoon Tisoy.
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