MANILA – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on second reading a measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), listed as legislative priority of the Duterte administration.
The chamber passed through voice voting House Bill No. 5989, otherwise known as the proposed “Disaster Resilience Act.”
Under the bill, the DDR shall be the primary government agency responsible for “leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate, and build forward better after the destruction.”
The DDR would still have the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) as its core organization, to which will be integrated the Climate Change Commission Office, the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health (DOH), the Disaster Response Assistance and the Disaster Response Management Bureau of Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, a principal author of the measure, said the creation of the DDR will ensure that the country is able to anticipate and proactively respond to emergencies and disasters, which he expects to intensify with worsening climate conditions.
Salceda said the DDR will help the country deal with disasters and emergencies “not as unfortunate incidents whose impacts are beyond our control, but as risks that can be mitigated.”
“We can no longer deny the fact that climate change is real, that we are a volcanically and tectonically active country, and that we face several typhoons each year. Disasters are a fact of Philippine life. But we can mitigate the human and socioeconomic costs of these disasters. DDR will help ensure that we have a full-time agency in charge of keeping us strong and ready for disasters,” Salceda said.
This year, the DDR was also identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as a priority measure during his fifth State of the Nation Address.
Once implemented, the DDR would be an institutionalized agency coordinating national response to disasters and emergencies, replacing the ad-hoc and primary secretariat-type work of the current National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Salceda said the DDR will lead in the continuous development of strategic, holistic and systematic approaches to disaster management, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation, and anticipatory adaptation strategies, measures, techniques and options.
“Fortune favors the prepared. We cannot avoid typhoons and other calamities that come with our geography. But we can keep the risks low and the damage controlled. That is resilience: being able to achieve meaningful progress despite natural and external adversities,” Salceda said. (PNA)