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The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

With 241 affirmative votes, 7 negative votes, and one abstention, the chamber passed House Bill 5989, otherwise known as the proposed “Disaster Resilience Act”.

The bill has been identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as a priority measure during his fifth State of the Nation Address last July 27.

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.”

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.

Salceda said the DDR would be an institutionalized agency coordinating the 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.

TINGOG party-list Rep Yedda Marie Romualdez and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, who are also authors of the bill, appealed to the Senate leadership to expedite its passage.

“We appeal to the Senate to expedite the passage of this measure that would institutionalize the cohesive, and comprehensive framework for disaster preparedness, prevention and mitigation, and response in our country,” the Romualdez couple said.

“We look forward to collaborating with them on this crucial piece of legislation for the welfare and safety of Filipinos. We are confident that the Senate is one with our goal to pass this bill into law this year.”

The DDR may undertake and implement certain emergency measures in anticipation of, during, and in the aftermath of disasters to protect and preserve life and property and ensure and promote public safety and welfare.

Among these emergency measures include carrying out preemptive and forced evacuation; imposition of curfew; and temporary takeover of any private utility or business, subject to payment of just compensation when there is imminent danger of loss of lives or damage to property.

The proposed law also establishes the National Disaster Operations Center (NDOC), Alternative Command Centers (ACC), and Disaster Resilience Research and Training Institute (DRRTI). (PNA)

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