Press Release
November 8, 2015

Cayetano: Let' institute real change by establishing the Emergency Response Department
Kicker: Calls for bold solution to effectively address calamities

"We need bold solutions in disaster management. We need to create a sole agency responsible for disaster preparedness, response, relief and rehabilitation."

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano made the call in the wake of the observance of super typhoon Yolanda's second-year tragedy.

He said the establishment of "Emergency Response Department" (ERD), a single, simplified and specialized department that will spearhead the government's disaster preparedness, response, relief and rehabilitation systems will ensure that the country will no longer suffer too many loss of lives when other calamities hit the country.

In the wake of the Yolanda disaster, the Senator filed Senate Bill No. 1940 that aims to establish the ERD to be headed by a person with a rank of Cabinet Secretary to direct and manage all emergency preparedness and response activities in the country. Cayetano lamented that the administration has not consider it a priority bill since it was filed in November 2013.

"Kailangan na ng matapang na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon para hindi maulit ang trahediya ng yolanda at ng ibat iba pang mga bagyo't sakuna. Hahayaan pa ba nating sirain ulit ng isa pang Yolanda ang buhay at kabuhayan ng mga kababayan natin bago tayo kumilos?" the senator asked.

"We urgently need to simplify and streamline our emergency response, relief and rehabilitation system to ensure that it will focus on disaster preparedness 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and not only during times of disaster," he added.

He said the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), the country's current ad hoc setup, cannot perform a full-time task since it is a complicated council, composed of several departments that carry out different responsibilities, and is only activated during times of disaster. It is a system that is made to fail, he asserted.

"Yolanda was just but one example of the failure of the present system and if we do not act fast with a bold solution, these tragedies will keep on happening," Cayetano said.

"We need to learn from the experiences both here and abroad at disaster preparedness, management and rehabilitation. While there have been improvements, the bold changes we need are still not in place. We have to act fast to address these challenges," Cayetano added.

"Not only has the system failed to prepare our people to face disasters, it has also failed in the rehabilitation efforts", the senator stressed. This was confirmed by the Commission on Audit (COA)'s 2014 report that more than 1/3 of the P1.15-billion local and foreign cash donations for Yolanda victims remain unspent.

"This is what happens to our disaster relief and rehab efforts when the agencies are only working part-time. Samantalang ang kalamidad sa ating bansa ay full-time," Cayetano stressed.

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