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Cayetano to peers: Fast-track passage of Department of Disaster Resilience bill

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House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday renewed his call to the members of the 18th Congress to fast-track the passage of the bill that will create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

“While our government is now focused on its fight against COVID-19 pandemic, we also have to be prepared to respond to inevitable natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes,” Cayetano said in a statement.

The Speaker’s call came after President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), urged the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the DDR bill swiftly, pointing out the impact of natural disasters as “poverty creators.”

Cayetano underscored the need to manage the “dual disaster” of natural disasters and poverty in an integrated, systematic, and cohesive manner.

“As much as we wish for the opposite, this pandemic could not be the last calamity that our country will face, so we need to fast track the passage of the Department of Disaster Resilience,” he said.

House Bill 5989 or the Disaster Resilience Act seeks to create the DDR, which will solely focus on disaster preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, recovery, and rehabilitation.

Cayetano, who is a principal author of the bill, reiterated his challenge to his colleagues to come up with long-lasting solutions, programs, and mechanisms to address calamities.

He particularly cited the need to speed up rehabilitative efforts after every disaster.

“Basically, sa disaster response, ang gusto nating ma-achieve sa Congress ay hindi lang maging reactionary ang government, kundi proactive,” he said.

Cayetano said the DDR will act as the focal agency that will bring relevant agencies, local government units, and non-government units together in crafting a national contingency plan.

“We have to build back better. Whatever it is that we are going to construct or reconstruct, we must ensure it would be more adaptive to the dynamic needs of the people and are structurally stronger and more strategic,” he said.

The bill is currently pending in the House plenary for deliberations.

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