Senators split over creation of Department of Disaster Resilience

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 4, 2020   •   970

Senators have split opinions on the creation of a new disaster-related government agency in the wake of strong typhoons that hit the country recently.

A bill that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience, is currently pending in the Senate after the House of Representatives approved the bill on the third and final reading last September 21.

Several senators opined that the creation of the said department would be redundant since its responsibility would be similar to the responsibilities of already established government agencies.

Senator Franklin Drilon said the departments should form a concrete plan in disaster response instead of creating a full department.

“I do not see the need for a full department only for disaster resilience. I believe that an overall plan on the number of departments should be in place, instead of a ‘knee-jerk’ push for a creation of certain departments. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?,” he said in a statement.

Drilon said the country already has the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of the Civil Defense that address disasters and other calamities experienced by the country.

However, Senator Grace Poe said disaster response should be prioritized, stressing the need to create the Department of Disaster Resilience.

“We need a dedicated agency that will focus on disaster resilience and management. Every calamity coming our way reminds us of the missed opportunity to be better prepared and give a more adequate response to the people and local governments. Let’s make this a priority,” she said.

Senator Bong Go also urged the Senate to re-discuss the said bill since it concerns the lives of Filipinos in times of calamities.

“With the Department of Disaster Resilience, [it will be] one department with regional offices and even provincial offices po na ready pong tumugon, (ready to respond),” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, still has yet to confirm when the Senate will discuss the said bill. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Senators express dismay over Roque’s vaccine remark

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators have expressed dismay over Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s remark on why Filipinos should not be picky with the COVID-19 vaccine brand they will receive.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, in a statement, said it is not fair for Filipinos to not be able to choose their vaccines made available by the government. Lacson added he would not pick a vaccine with 50% against other brands with 79% efficacy.

“Instead of building people’s confidence by starting with a higher efficacy vaccine and accomplish its intended purpose, to tell them they can’t be choosy is definitely not a smart information campaign to promote mass inoculation,” he said.

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan also said the Palace should stop with the remarks since it can only lessen the trust of Filipinos on vaccines

Itong mga bitiw na salita ng spokesperson tungkol sa bakuna sa totoo lang ay nakakadagdag sa kawalan ng tiwala sa bakuna ng taumbayan. Hindi nakakatulong (The spokesperson’s words about the vaccine only adds to the distrust on vaccines. It is not helping),” Pangilinan said.

In a press briefing on Monday (January 11), Roque said the public should not be ‘choosy’ with the COVID-19 vaccines they would receive from the government.

Totoo po, mayroon tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan (It is true that we have the right for better health but we cannot be picky because a lot of Filipinos need to be vaccinated),” Roque said.

Senator Grace Poe reiterated that it is the Filipinos’ right to choose which vaccine brand they want to receive.

“The Filipino people have every right to choose which vaccine to take, it is their money the government is spending to procure the precious doses,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing Czar Vince Dizon said the government is not favoring a specific country for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Wala po tayong policy na pinapaboran ang isang vaccine o isang bansa. Lahat po ng vaccines na safe and effective ay ipu-pursue ng national government, vaccine czar, at vaccine cluster (There is no policy that favors a vaccine or country. All safe and effective vaccines are being pusued by the national government, vaccine czar, and vaccine cluster),” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)


Department of Disaster Resilience Bill passes House committee level

Robie de Guzman   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) has been approved at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

The House committees on government reorganization and disaster management approved on Wednesday the still unnumbered bill that would create an agency to handle disaster management.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte, during his fourth State of the Nation Address, called on Congress to pass measures creating new agencies, including the DDR.

The measure provides for the creation of the DDR, which shall serve as the primary government agency responsible for leading, organizing and managing the national effort to reduce disaster risk, prepare for and respond to disasters, recover and rehabilitate, and build forward better after the occurrence of disasters.

The department will also oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, projects, and activities; and provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

The agency will be headed by a secretary, supported by four undersecretaries responsible for the following key result areas: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, recovery and building forward better, and support to operations.

According to Albay Second District Representative Joey Salceda, one of the main proponents of the bill, the new department would need an initial budget of P10 billion from the national budget.

The measure also states that the DDR shall have a Disaster Resilience Fund, which shall consist of the Annual General Appropriations, the Disaster Contingency Fund, and the Rehabilitation and Recovery Fund to properly implement its provisions.

After hurdling the committee level, the measure will be referred to the House Committee on Rules for the schedule of its plenary deliberation.

Senate targets to pass creation of Department of Disaster Resilience before end of 2019

Maris Federez   •   November 4, 2019

Retrieval operations in Itogon landslide

The Senate of the Philippines considers the proposed creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience as urgent following the recent earthquakes that hit North Cotabato.

According to the proposal of Senator Christopher Bong Go, the said department will handle all disaster-related responsibilities.

To date, several agencies including the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are shouldering the responsibilities in addressing disaster-related events.

Several senators have expressed support to the said proposal.

“Nagkakaturuan eh, because it’s all coordinating council. Hindi po siya talagang departamento na nakatutok, for example, on post calamity and even pre-calamity,” said Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

“So yung sa disaster, ang importante diyan, may mananagot. Talagang may tutupad.  Walang turuan ng turuan,” said Sen. Imee Marcos.

Senate President Vicente Sotto said there is a big possibility that the bill will be passed before the year ends.

“Hindi siya masyadong problema hindi katulad ng ibang departamentong pinaplano na nagsasalungat duon sa right sizing bill,” Sen. Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Zubiri doesn’t see any reason why the approval of the proposed 2020 national budget will be delayed.

The senator hopes that the 6-month delay in the passage of the 2019 budget will not have a repeat.

“Ang consensus ng ating mga kasamahan sa Senado ay maganda naman, ipapasa natin as soon as possible time,” Zubiri said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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