Senators push for creation of DDR after Abra quake - TrueID

Senators push for creation of DDR after Abra quake

Philippine News AgencyJuly 27, 2022

DUCK, COVER, HOLD. Employees and staff members of senators leave the Senate building located in Pasay City on Wednesday (July 27, 2022) after feeling the intensity of the magnitude 7 earthquake that shook Abra and nearby provinces, reaching even Metro Manila. Senators have long filed measures for a unified disaster preparedness, response, and management strategy. (Photo courtesy of Office of Senator JV Ejercito) 

MANILA – Members of the Senate reminded colleagues on Wednesday to urgently pass the legislation seeking to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

Despite the existence of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters calls for a full-fledged department dedicated to disaster preparedness, response, and management.

“We have the NDRRMC. But because we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire, we are prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and typhoons. Preparations should be year-round, the training, acquisition, the building of evacuation centers,” he told Senate reporters.

Various lawmakers, including Ejercito, have long been proposing measures to consolidate government resources towards a more unified disaster preparedness, response, and management strategy.

Ejercito recently filed Senate Bill 756, which seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience.

Another version of the bill was filed by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go with a provision that local government units would be required to have an evacuation center to further intensify the country’s resilience to disasters.

Wake-up call

Meanwhile, Senator Robinhood Padilla believes the quake was a wake-up call to strengthen the country's local disaster resilience mechanism, especially at the local level.

"Siguro ang palakasin muna natin kasi meron tayong mga regional disaster (response), na nandiyan na sila. Palakasin natin sila, bigyan ng pondo. Ang gusto ko lang imungkahi palagi, bigyan natin ng kalayaan ang regional na magdesisyon sa sarili nila. Kasi ang pagresponde depende kung sinong teritoryo kung sino taga doon mas alam nila (What we should strengthen first is our regional disaster response. Beef up funding if needed. Give them the autonomy to make decisions because they are the ones most familiar with their areas of responsibility)," Padilla said after leaving the Senate building when the quake hit.

He cited as an example the revival of the Medical Reserve Corps and the mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) mentioned by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his State of the Nation Address on Monday that would be a big help in this regard.

"Kailangan po natin magdagdag (ang pagiging handa). May magandang panukala ang ating mahal na Pangulong Marcos na magkaroon ng medical (reserve) corps. Bukod po yun sa pagmandato sa ROTC. Kailangan natin gawin yan at ganoon din dati noong 18th Congress, alam ko na-file ito ni Senator Bong Go, na mahandaan sa ganitong mga disaster. Siyempre sa climate change di natin maiwasan ito lalo na ang Pilipinas, lagi tayong tinatamaan (We must be more prepared. President Marcos' call for a medical reserve corps and mandated ROTC will be needed. Also during the 18th Congress, Senator Bong Go filed a bill stressing the need for disaster resilience. We need such measures, especially now that we are feeling the effects of climate change)," Padilla added.

The neophyte senator said he was in his office on the fifth floor of the Senate building and was preparing for a briefing by his legal team when he felt the quake.

"Nakita ko ang tuwalya gumaganun sabi ko lumilindol. Sinabi ko sa kasama ko lumilindol ha, walang magpa-panic (I saw the towel swaying and I thought there is a quake. I told my staff that there is a quake, but told them not to panic)," he said.

Check the structures 

Meanwhile, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to immediately deploy personnel to assess the integrity of infrastructure in the areas affected by the earthquake that rocked northern Luzon, Metro Manila, and some parts of Calabarzon.

"Safety is the most important concern now. We need to ensure the integrity of our infrastructure – bridges, houses, and buildings, including schools and hospitals," said Revilla, the newly elected chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Works.

He emphasized the responsibility of the DPWH to assure the public that every structure is safe.

"They should not waste time. Baka kung ano pang sakuna ang mangyari kung hindi agarang mainspeksyon ang mga struktura (Another disaster might happen if structures are not immediately inspected)," Revilla added.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, on the other hand, is calling on the NDRRMC, through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), to coordinate and mobilize resources for response and information management to immediately ascertain the extent of damage caused by the magnitude 7 earthquake.

"Para sa kaligtasan ng mga kababayan natin, sana ay magkaroon ng agarang inspeksyon sa structural soundness ng mga gusali lalo na ng mga opisina ng gobyerno na tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan sa mga sitwasyong may kalamidad at mga sakuna (For the safety of our countrymen, I hope there would be an immediate inspection of the structural soundness of buildings, especially the government offices that respond to the needs of Filipinos during calamities and disasters)," Estrada said in a statement.

He called on everyone to stay calm and give way to authorities who would provide help and restore the affected areas. (PNA) 

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