Senator Christopher Lawrence Go has reiterated his calls for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), establishment of mandatory evacuation centers, and amendments to the National Building Code.
Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Jinggoy Estrada condoled with the families of five provincial disaster risk reduction and management office (PDRRMO) workers who died while conducting rescue operations in San Miguel, Bulacan.
Go made the call as super typhoon Karding on Sunday swept through a large part of Luzon with heavy rains and strong winds, prompting the national government to suspend classes and work across the Luzon mainland on Monday.
As a result, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council issued the highest emergency preparedness and response protocol in a bid to ward off damage to life and property.
The senator refiled Senate Bill 188 proposing the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience.
The said bill shall unify and streamline all responsibilities related to disaster preparedness and response, functions that are currently scattered across various departments and offices.
Go refiled Senate Bill No. 1181, otherwise known as the Philippine Building Act of 2022 which seeks to protect lives and mitigate the impact of disasters by setting building standards and benchmarks, particularly the recommended structural stability and integrity designed to withstand disasters.
The measure mandates more effective regulation of planning, design, construction, occupancy, and maintenance of all public and private buildings and structures, thereby promoting building resilience against natural and man-made disasters.
The bill also amends the National Building Code to ensure the integrity and strength of all buildings and structures under what the senator called “building back better.”
“‘Building back better’ requires that in the reconstruction of damaged structures, due consideration must be given to the possibility of the disaster repeating itself.
In making rules and regulations, and in the reference standards for planning, designing, and reconstructing new buildings and structures.
The senator also refiled Senate Bill 193 that mandates the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality nationwide. The measure aims to ensure that disaster-affected families can take refuge in evacuation centers that are safe, dedicated and equipped with basic necessities.
In accordance with the specifications of the National Building Code of the Philippines, the evacuation centers shall be constructed and designed to withstand super typhoons or wind speeds of at least 300 kilometers per hour and seismic activity of at least 8.0 magnitude.
“More or less 20 typhoons enter the country annually. Because of this, disaster resiliency is very important, especially since our geographic location makes us vulnerable to other disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, storm surges and more,” he noted.
Zubiri and Estrada honored rescuers Nelson Calayag, Jerson Resurrection, Marby Bartolome, George Agustin and Jason .troy Agustin.
“They are the real heroes. They faced danger and calamities to ensure the safety of our people,” Zubiri said.
For his part, Estrada said it was unfortunate that the casualties of Typhoon Karding happened to be personnel of the PDRRMO who were on rescue missions.
“In times of disaster, we need our first responders to be well-equipped and well-trained,” he said.
This incident, Estrada noted, should be an eye-opener on the need to consider an agency or department in charge of disaster response to oversee not only the needs of the public but the management of personnel.
“We’re hoping that the Executive branch will take a second look at the proposed bills calling for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) or consider pursuing an agency on this matter,” he said.
Under Senate Bill No. 791, Estrada said he had included a provision giving the proposed DDR the authority to prescribe benefits, allowances, and other similar emoluments for disaster management professionals and disaster resilience officers at the national and local levels.