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Senator Gatchalian wants disaster response management decentralized

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for amendments in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 to empower local government units and boost their disaster response offices.

In a statement on Sunday, Gatchalian called for a review of the law amid proposals to create a separate department of disaster management at the local level.

He pointed out that the current law restricts the disaster response and risk reduction capabilities of LGUs.

He also highlighted the the glaring inequity in the allocation of calamity funds.

For instance, he said, Makati City, one of the richest cities in the country, can have as much as P700 million-calamity fund annually while Batangas, where an active volcano is located, has lesser calamity fund.

He suggested that funds to be allocated and used in creating a new department can be used by LGUs to strengthen their disaster preparedness and response initiatives.

“The Framework laid down in the NDRRMC (National Risk Reduction and Management Council) law is working but needs to be enhanced by studying how we can reallocate and provide funds for disaster preparedness, risk reduction, response and recovery to help cities and municipalities that are within geohazard areas”, the senator said.

Also, he pointed out that the current law does not include the designation of an officer-in-charge of disaster risk management, making it difficult for LGUs to institutionalize and implement DRRM plans.

The creation of permanent positions in the local disaster risk reduction and management office will transfer the functions and responsibilities from the governor or mayor to the officer-in-charge.

“There’s no person in charge and we can assume that the mayor or the governor is the one in-charge, but they are busy on some other concerns on a day-to-day basis,” Gatchalian stressed.

On July 24, 2019, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 746  (SBN 746) or An Act Expanding the Application of The Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund by Amending the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. —LBG, GMA News