Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday urged the Senate leadership to ask President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to certify as urgent all Senate proposals calling for the formation of the Department of Disaster Resilience.
This as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc across northern Luzon on Wednesday morning, killing at least 4 people and damaging roads in many parts of the island’s mountainous north interior.
“Personally, I’m drafting a letter to Malacañang to ask that these bills be certified as urgent, but if the (Senate) majority leader can consider in the Rules Committee meeting if the Senate as a whole wants to ask for this bill to be certified urgent, I’d greatly appreciate that,” Cayetano said during a manifestation on the Senate floor on July 27, 2022.
The senator pointed out that the frequency of natural hazards and the unique vulnerability of many parts of the country to meteorological and geological events make the need for a single department in charge of disaster response all the more urgent.
“The present National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council are filled with very committed, dedicated people, and I’ve seen them work. Pero Mr. President, anl ‘to, 44 agencies na ad hoc ang coordination. Coordinating lang sila,” Cayetano said.
“We need one department that will be accountable, one department that will be the one to do the job and we can pinpoint if any coordination is needed,” the senator added.
Cayetano mentioned that even President Marcos himself has brought up the need for a department of disaster resiliency; the lawmaker also made the suggestion to certify at least four separate bills authored by himself, his sister Senator Pia Cayetano, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri calling for the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience as urgent.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said that he supports the measure, saying he would consider following through on Cayetano’s request as soon as the Senate Committee on Rules is organized.
Senate President Zubiri also voiced his approval of the move to create a disaster resiliency department, adding that it was included in his top ten measures in the upper chamber.
“So I fully support it,” Zubiri said.
On July 7, 2022, Cayetano filed Senate Bill No. 66, or the Emergency Response Department Act, which calls for the formation of the Emergency Response Department (ERD).
It is the latest iteration in a series of proposed measures filed by the veteran lawmaker since 2013 calling for a disaster response department, which include Senate Bill No. 1940, the “Emergency Response Department (ERD) Act of 2016”, filed in November 2013; Senate Bill No. 73, the “Emergency Response Department (ERD) Act of 2016”, filed in June 2016; and House Bill No. 04 filed in July 2019.
The proposed department will be the focused and accountable Department on disaster risk reduction and management.
It is also expected to assume the policy-making, coordination, integration, supervision, monitoring and evaluation functions currently lodged with the existing National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and shall take over all of the latter’s responsibilities. It shall also assume the powers and functions of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).