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House panels OK Department of Disaster Resilience bill

The House Committees on Government Reorganization and Disaster Management on Wednesday approved the measure seeking to create the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

During its joint meeting, the panel approved the substitute bill for at least 30 bills proposing the establishment of the department.

However, unlike the original versions of the proposal, the committee-approved bill adopts a "joint operation supervision" clause over agencies vital to the DDR instead of making them attached agencies of the department.

According to Albay Representative Joey Salceda, one of the main proponents of the measure, the DDR will be the primary government agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks, prepare for and respond to disasters, and recover, rehabilitate, and build forward better after the destruction.”

The department will be headed by a secretary supported by undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and directors. It will have an initial budget of P10 billion.

Initial proposals said that several bodies will be taken from their mother agencies to be attached to the new department.  These are the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA), the Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).   

However, Salceda the committee has decided to adopt a new provision on the "joint supervision" of these agencies with the DDR.

Section 94 of the measure now provides that the DDR will exercise joint supervision with the following departments:

  • Department of Science and Technology over PAGASA and PHIVOLCS
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources over Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the MGB, and;
  • Department of Interior and Local Government over the BFP

The Office of the Civil Defense will remain as the core organization of the DDR, under which the Climate Change Commission Office, the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health, the Disaster Response Assistance and the Disaster Response Management Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development will be integrated.

Salceda said the proposed DDR will have its own National Disaster Resilience Fund scheme which will allow fund inputs from national and local government units.

Under this scheme, only 20% of the funds can be used for quick response, while the remaining 80% is intended for climate change adaptation, disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and mitigation, disaster risk transfer, disaster preparedness, recovery, rehabilitation and anticipatory adaptation.

The proposed department will also establish a Disaster Resilience Support Fund exclusively for the use of third to sixth class provinces and towns in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating their programs, projects, and activities for climate change adaptation, disaster risk prevention and mitigation, disaster risk transfer, and disaster preparedness.

Following its approval in the committee, the bill will be transmitted to the House Committee Rules which calendar it for deliberations in the plenary.

Apart from the DDR bill, the House is also prioritizing the approval of the measures creating the Department of Filipino Overseas and the Department of Water Resources. —LDF, GMA News