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Solons urge department for disaster resilience creation




MANILA -- Following a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that rocked Mindanao, several House members on Friday urged for the swift passage of a bill creating a government agency that would specifically deal with disasters and other calamities in the country.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco said there is now an immediate need for the passage of the administration’s version of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) as contained in House Bill 3459, which he filed, and HB 1151 that was filed by Tingog Sinirangan Party-list Rep. Yedda Romualdez and South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez.

In pushing for the immediate passage of the proposed measures, the lawmaker cited records from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), which showed that 20 earthquakes are recorded every day in the country.

Areas that have a higher risk of intensity-8 earthquakes are the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Rizal, and Cavite. Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Laguna, and Batangas are located in the low intensity-8 areas under the seismic map.

Velasco noted that aside from the string of earthquakes that hit some parts of the country daily, the Philippines is visited by an average of 20 tropical cyclones every year which produces floods, landslides and storm surges.

“It's high time that we pass this measure that would specifically deal with such calamities,” the lawmaker said.

“House bill 3459 is our government's response to the Filipino people's resiliency. We may not be able to prevent earthquakes but we could help mitigate its devastating effects,” Velasco said.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas also urged for the passage of a similar bill, HB 2001, which will create a Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (DReAM).

The proposed measure will task the new government agency with strengthened coordination in terms of preparation, implementation of its resiliency programs, and monitoring and evaluation of disaster and climate resilience plans and activities.

“It’s about time to have this DReAM. This DReAm will equip the country with institutional capacity for disaster preparedness and emergency management, and build the resilience of local communities to disasters, natural or man-made, including climate change impacts,” Vargas said.

“We will work double-time to pass into law the DReAM Act,” he added.

Meanwhile, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan urged government officials, particularly in Mindanao, to bolster their disaster preparedness and mitigation measures by staging more information-drive and outreach education programs to communities and schools in their respective districts.

“The country is susceptible to all sorts of calamities – heavy floods, strong winds, monster typhoons, and strong earthquakes. By intensifying the campaign about disaster preparedness to the public, I believe it will significantly lower the risks brought about by disasters,” she said.

“It is not enough that we bank on disaster-resilient infrastructures. A large portion of it should also be invested in the people itself. It has been proven time and again that when disaster strikes, the most affected ones are those who are least prepared,” Sangcopan said.

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