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Rep. Salceda seeks creation of independent authority to strengthen PH disaster management

DARAGA, Albay, Aug. 16 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. Jose Salceda (2nd District) is seeking the creation of a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, to be commonly known as NDRRMA, which will carry out the “complex responsibility” of disaster management in the country that is prone to natural hazards.

Rep. Joey Salceda
Photo via Rep. Salceda's Facebook account
He said the proposal for an integrated framework in managing disaster work in the country considers the “institutional constraints” of the existing Republic Act No. 10121, known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010.

Salceda said RA 10121, which mandates the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as the main coordinating body of all local disaster councils, has been due for evaluation or “sunset review” by the congressional oversight committee five years since it was signed on May 27, 2010.

Among those that are up for review are the performance and organizational structure of the member agencies of NDRRMC and the “the issues and gaps in RA 10121” so that remedial legislation could be done to address the increasing challenges of DRRM in the country.

The lawmaker from Albay, a province which has been acknowledged internationally for its best practices in achieving zero casualty during disasters, said the NDRRMA will be constituted according to a proposed bill he will submit to the 17th Congress.

He said the proposed bill had resulted from “action research, sharing of experiences and dynamic discussions among various stakeholders from national and local government agencies, organizations and communities.”

Salceda said the planned bill is also a product of “comparable international experiences.” The lawmaker was recognized by the United Nation International Strategy for Disaster Reduction for his efforts to institutionalize DRRM when he was Albay governor.

After supertyphoon Yolanda (international name:Haiyan) devastated Eastern Visayas, especially Tacloban City, in November 2013 the Japanese International Cooperation Agency has expressed its support for the creation of an agency for the speedy rehabilitation of devastated areas.

“Team Albay” which the former governor organized was the first responder to the devastated city and region immediately after the supertyphoon made its landfall.

Salceda was also elected as the co-chair of the United Nations Green Climate Fund (UN GCF) Board in Paris, France in 2013, to become the first Asian and first Filipino to lead the Fund’s 24-member Board, which was created to help developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change.

He said the aim of the bill is to create an independent NDRRMA that will monitor, serve as oversight, and ensure implementation of DRRRM objectives in all localities in the country.

“The NDRRMA will be equipped with the necessary competency and resources to engage new actors, particularly in the field of risk transfer and insurance, and built with the necessary structure to manage broader governance arrangements and oversee the implementation of DRRM efforts towards sustainable development goals,” said the Albay lawmaker.

He added that his proposed bill will designate and empower the NDRRMA as the lead agency and attached agency of the Office of the President for the implementation of risk reduction policies, programs and projects and rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“It has the authority ...to administer, mobilize, report, monitor and oversee the utilization of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, recovery and rehabilitation funds, and donations for DRRM,” he said.

NDRRMA, NDRRMC, OCD

Salceda said under the proposed bill, the NDRRMA will be separate from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), which will continue to perform its original mandate to administer a comprehensive national civil defense program, training of community volunteers and other mechanisms for local preparedness.

“The NDRRMC will now focus solely on policy-making and function as a platform for coordination of policy concerns with the NDRRMA organizing and managing the secretariat and operations center to support the NDRRMC,” he said.

He added RA 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, was a landmark legislation for Philippine DRRM as it initiated a shift from the decades old DRRM polices on “reactive emergency management and preparedness” to one that is “proactive by prioritizing DRR, prevention and mitigation over disaster response.”

He said many years of intense advocacy work by stakeholders and two unfortunate large scale disasters—-Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng—-that hit Luzon and particularly hurt Metro Manila in 2009, finally compelled the passage of RA 10121.

Salceda said RA 10121 came after 32 years of the previous law that was crafted through Presidential Decree 1566 in 1978.

Innovations

Among the institutional innovations of RA 10121, Salceda said, was the establishment of permanent disaster management offices at all levels of the local government in contrast to the disaster management councils before “but which for economic expediency was maintained at the barangay level.”

Salceda said the practice of a permanent disaster management office was pioneered by Albay in 1994 through the creation of its Albay Public Safety and Management Office, more popularly known as Apsemo.

He said from the previous inter-agency body, known as the National Disaster Coordinating Council, it was radically expanded and transformed into the NDRRMC as it is now known today.

“The NDRRMC has been mandated to supervise and lead not only in emergency management but also in the implementation of disaster risk reduction through its ‘policy-making, coordination, integration, supervision, monitoring and evaluation’ functions,” said Salceda.

Supertyphoon YolandaSalceda said supertyphoon Yolanda, however, exposed the weaknesses of the institutional set up under RA 10121.

He said extreme difficulties were encountered in carrying out the “heavy responsibility of concretely integrating the disaster risk management framework in the national and local planning processes.”

Salceda said that RA 10121’s strength lies in its institutionalization of stakeholder participation in policy-making for DRRM, that was accomplished through the expanded membership of the NDRRMC.

He said however the law “failed to create an institution that is in a sufficiently high position to oversee the implementation of a streamlined DRRM policies nationwide.”

Salceda said RA 10121 failed to create an institution that has the necessary authority, mandate and resources to lead and coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders towards a more resilient nation.

He emphasized how the occurrence of superyphoon Yolanda and other large-scale disasters revealed the problems encountered in coordinating and implementing large-scale DRRM efforts.

In 2015, the Global Climate Risk Index ranked the Philippines as the fifth among the most affected countries within a 20-year period, from 1994 to 2013, with the most number of climate-related extreme weather events.

In the same year, the World Risk Index raised the ranking of the Philippines as the second most at risk country out of 171 countries in the world.

Salceda said the best form of response under an intensifying global warming is a “fast, well-funded and well-coordinated response under the NDRRMA.”

“The country’s policies should be able to reflect this,” he said.

Salceda said his proposed bill in Congress will be entitled: An Act Further Strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System by Institutionalizing the Framework and Plan and Establishing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, Appropriating Funds Thereof and For Other Purposes.(PNA)

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