Speaker Lord Alan Velasco’s recent call for the Senate to pass the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) bill reflects the lower chamber’s universal sentiment on the long-stalled proposal it had earlier overwhelmingly passed, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said.
Velasco has called on the Senate to prioritize the passage of the DRR bill, as Typhoon Quinta battered different parts of Luzon, and as more weather disturbances were forecast to hit the country.
“We earnestly urge our counterparts in the Senate to pass their own version so we can subsequently work on the enrolled bill...” said Velasco, adding that the DDR creation will “allow us to be constantly prepared and well-equipped when natural disasters occur.... enable other departments to put all their focus and efforts in helping the country recover from COVID-19.”
House Bill No. 5989 also known as the DDR Act, was passed by the Lower House on third and final reading last September 21 with an overwhelming 241 votes.
It was deemed as the country’s blueprint for survival against natural calamities and even pandemics, certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte many times.
The measure now awaits deliberations in the Senate.
Salceda, House Ways and Means committee head and principal author of the DDR bill, said Velasco’s call reflects the sentiment of the entire House.
He said the DDR will be the primary agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to address and mitigate disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction.”
The agency, he added, is designed to effectively lessen the “human and socio-economic costs” of disasters in the country once the measure is signed into law.
It was previously approved in 2017 by the Lower House but was stalled and overtaken by the 2019 elections in the Senate.
Salceda has earlier expressed confidence the DDR bill will be finally enacted this time since it is authored by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go in the upper chamber, who himself introduced innovations into the bill.
“We can no longer deny the fact that climate change is real, that we are a volcanically and tectonically active country, and that we face several typhoons each year. Disasters are a fact of Philippine life, but we can mitigate the human and socioeconomic costs of these disasters. DDR will help ensure that we have a full-time agency in charge of keeping us strong and ready for disasters,” Salceda said.
“Fortune favors the prepared. We cannot avoid typhoons and other calamities that come with our geography. But we can keep the risks low and the damage controlled. That is resilience: being able to achieve meaningful progress despite natural and external adversities,” Salceda added.