Department of Disaster Resilience Bill approved

The substitute bill seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) has been approved, including the amendments discussed, in the joint hearing of the Committee on Government Reorganization chaired by Rep. Mario Vittorio Mariño (5th District, Batangas) and the Committee on Disaster Management chaired by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte).

A technical working group (TWG) co-chaired by Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Party-list, TINGOG SINIRANGAN) and Rep. Romeo Momo, Sr. (Party-list, CWS) consolidated and harmonized the provisions of 32 measures led by House Bill No. (HB) 4 authored by Speaker Alan Peter “Compañero” Cayetano.

Romualdez gave the assurance that, during the TWG meeting, the structure and budget reorganization of key government agencies were exhaustively discussed. She added that manifestations and proposals of valued stakeholders were earnestly considered as the panel drafted the substitute bill.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda (Lone District, Antique) lauded the TWG for thoroughly reviewing the various versions of the measure establishing the DDR, which resulted in a substitute bill that promotes science-based and risk-informed development plans and investments.

Torres-Gomez expressed delight that the measure is finally a step closer into becoming a law. “There will still be many ways to fine-tune the bill so we will wait for the amended substitute bill and then this will be deliberated further on the floor. But I think as representatives we are all one in wanting a department that can really function the way it should,” she said.

Being a priority measure of the Duterte administration, Torres-Gomez hopes the bill will be approved on third reading by the end of 2019. “I’m very hopeful. Ganoon naman kapag gusto ng President. And the Speaker, I’m sure, will push for this also,” she said.

Upon the committees’ approval, Mariño directed that the measure be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means chaired by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District, Albay) and the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City). Salceda bared that his committee is set to tackle and approve the tax provisions of the measure next week.

In the explanatory note of his HB 4, Speaker Cayetano said that while the country has very good people in the National Disaster Risk, Reduction Management Council, it is high time that the government provides for a focused, single-minded, specialized department to upgrade the government’s capacity to respond to disasters in an effective and speedy manner.

The unnumbered substitute bill provides for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (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.

To be headed by a Secretary who shall be appointed by the incumbent President, the DDR shall (a) oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans, programs, projects and activities and (b) provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation.

There shall be four Undersecretaries under the DDR, who shall be responsible for the following key result areas: (a) disaster risk reduction, (b) disaster preparedness and response, (c) recovery and building forward better, and (d) support to operations.

To properly implement the provisions of the measure, 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.

The implementing rules and regulations shall be crafted and promulgated by the DDR, Department of Budget and Management, Department of National Defense, Department of Finance, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, National Economic Development Authority, House and Senate Committees on Government Reorganization, as well as representatives from the academe and business sectors.

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