SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today pushed for the establishment of a Disaster Management Department that would be instrumental in improving the country’s preparedness before, during, and after the strike of natural calamities.
Speaker Arroyo reiterated her call for the creation of the Disaster Management Department in an interview prior to her distribution of relief goods to some 1,000 families in Marilao, Bulacan, who were affected by previous typhoons.
The relief operations were done by Speaker Arroyo despite the expected onslaught of supertyphoon Ompong.
Speaker Arroyo disclosed that there are difficulties encountered with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in terms of determining where the relief operations should be held.
She said that while residents of Bulacan were definitely victimized by the calamities, people living in the East of Aurora apparently experienced it worse. She explained that they were almost clueless as to where the typhoon really hit.
“So because it’s a coordinating council, we just based it on where they announced ‘no classes.’ It turns out it’s East of Aurora. We should have gone to Aurora, but we didn’t know. If there is a Disaster Management Department, they would have better information, and they can prepare better,” Speaker Arroyo said.
She also bared that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also had logistical issues, which posed delay on the day of the relief operations.
“We asked (the) DSWD to bring relief goods. I brought mine. Good that it’s here. But DSWD, they have the goods, but do not have the truck. A Disaster Management Department would have everything.
So what happened was that the DSWD had to borrow a truck from Meycauayan Mayor Henry Villarica, the husband of Congresswoman Villarica. "But then, the truck broke down. It just arrived now,” she said.
Speaker Arroyo then noted that it is important to already have a Disaster Management Secretary who can focus on concerns of risk reduction and management.
“We need to have a permanent and full-time Secretary of Disaster. Who’s the head of the Council? Secretary Lorenzana. Well, he’s busy fighting insurgency. He’s busy fighting terrorism. So how can he be there full-time? So now, what happened is since the typhoon is going to hit the North, four Secretaries are there. If there was a full-time Secretary, then you don’t need four Secretaries to be there,” Speaker Arroyo explained.
The Speaker mentioned how these matters have only proven that there is absolutely a need for a Disaster Management Department. She said that “They’re doing the best that they can. I’m satisfied with what they’re doing within the limitations of a coordinating council, but this really proves we should have a Disaster [Management] Department. Otherwise, we would have been in Aurora today, if we had known better,” she said.
Relatedly, House Bill 8165, seeking the creation of the Department of Disaster Resiliency (DDR), is now in the period of sponsorship and debate at the House of Representatives.
Also present during the relief operations were Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Marilao Mayor Juanito Santiago, Marilao Vice Mayor Henry Lutao, Meycauayan Mayor Henry Villarica, some local officials of Marilao and representatives from the DSWD. | Monel Gonzales