Duterte urges passage of new disaster department bill: Our people's safety cannot wait

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The President emphasized the urgent need to protect the Filipino people from natural disasters in his third State of the Nation Address.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his resolve to improve the country's resilience to natural disasters through the urgent need of a new disaster management department.

The President urged the upper and lower chambers to immediately pass into a law the creation of the Department of Disaster Management during his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), Monday.

"I fervently appeal to Congress to pass this bill with utmost urgency; our people's safety requirements cannot wait," he emphasized.

The President first raised the need for better disaster response management in his second SONA in 2017. He maintained it is imperative to develop a strong resilience to disasters to protect the people.

"To help safeguard the present and future generations we have to earnestly undertake initiatives to reduce our vulnerability to natural hazards and bolster our resilience to the impact of national disasters and climate change," he said.

The new disaster department shall enforce a "unity of command", Duterte said, implementing approaches that would particularly focus on disaster responses, similar to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States.

Malacañang announced the Cabinet's approval of the creation of the new department on July 11, which will effectively abolish the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) once passed by Congress.

"We need a truly empowered department characterized by a unity of command, science-based approach, and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters to take charge of disaster risk reduction, preparedness response, with better recovery and faster rehabilitation," Duterte said. "Hence, we and the Cabinet have approved for immediate endorsement to Congress the passage of a law creating the department of disaster management an inter-agency just like FEMA."

Undersecretary for Disaster Resiliency Karen Jimeno previously said they are gunning to have the bill passed before the year ends. She added the new disaster resilience inter-agency will hasten the disbursement of funds and procurement of relief goods should disasters strike.

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

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