Office of the President wants NDRRMC abolition, new Department of Disaster Resilience by year-end

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 17) — The President is gunning for a disaster agency bill to be passed into law by the end of the year, Undersecretary for Disaster Resilience Karen Jimeno said Tuesday.

The bill, which is still being developed, will propose the creation of a Department for Disaster Resilience and effectively abolish the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

"It has been certified by the President as one of his priority legislations," Jimeno told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"It's certified as urgent," she added. "We're hoping that it can be passed by this year."

Jimeno, whose new assignment is directly under the Presidential Management Staff, said that they wish to hurdle the proposal before the 2019 election campaign season rolls around.

At present, there are three separate proposals in the House of Representatives and at least two in the Senate that pitch a separate institution for disaster management.

READ: Duterte Cabinet approves creation of new disaster response department

However, the plans are not comprehensive just yet, said Jimeno.

"What we want is for the bills not to compete among themselves," she said. "Right now we're looking at all the bills. We're looking at the good provisions and having one version that really addresses what we need for our country."

Important provisions

Among the reasons cited for the necessity of a separate department is the unity of command.

Jimeno said the NDRRMC, currently headed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, is primarily composed of "part-timers."

She also cited the disbursement of funds, pointing out that then-Yolanda rehabilitation czar Ping Lacson was limited to coordinating powers when the supertyphoon struck in 2013.

"Sometimes that process takes several months... In some cases that we looked at, it has taken over a year just to release the calamity fund," said Jimeno.

The office is also looking into fast-tracking procurement, particularly for relief goods, through standby contracts that are only activated when certain conditions — like natural disaster — are met.

"We can innovate by having standby contracts, wherein it's contingent upon the happening of certain events," said Jimeno. "

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