Press Release
January 29, 2020

Department of Disaster Resilience will help remedy 'lengthy' calamity fund release process, says Bong Go

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go said on Wednesday, January 29, that the current 'lengthy' process to download calamity funds will be remedied with the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) as the senator continues pushing for the passage of a bill which seeks to form the said executive department.

During a Senate Joint Committee Hearing of the National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation; Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation; Ways and Means; and Finance Committees, Go bemoaned the long process the government has to go through just to download funds for its disaster preparation, management and mitigation efforts.

"Ang tagal po ng proseso ng pag-download natin ng pera. Ang haba-haba ng calamity fund process flow. Baka mamaya, ilang linggo pa bago ma-release 'yung pondo. Kailangan meron talaga tayong in charge. Handa dapat tayo," he said.

Go added that the government should not be afraid of enhancing the bureaucracy or changing it for the better to streamline the delivery of government services in preparation for and in response to disasters.

"Bawat oras na hindi natin inaayos ang ating mga batas at ang ating burukrasya, inilalapit natin sa kapahamakan ang ating mga kababayan. I appeal to my colleagues, let us not be afraid of change," Go said.

"There is nothing wrong with changing how our bureaucracy works if the goal is to make the delivery of government services more efficient, more effective, and more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people," Go added.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Acting Secretary Wendel E. Avisado concurred with the senator, saying that the creation of DDR will pave the way for a much easier and faster flow of calamity funds.

"We are in agreement on the need to improve the government's ability to respond to calamities," Avisado said.

"We want to ensure our people don't get angry, especially when they say ang DBM kase hindi ni-release ang pera. Paano namin ire-release, ang haba ng process flow. Eh kung isang department lang, nasa GAA 'yan comprehensive ang release n'yan. Whether we like it or not, antimano nasa department 'yan (pondo)," the DBM secretary added.

Go filed in July last year Senate Bill (SB) No. 205 or the "Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019" which proposes for the creation of DDR, "an empowered, highly specialized department with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities."

The bill seeks to establish a clear system of responsibility for disaster preparedness and response in all levels of the government, given the increasing number and devastation brought about by various disasters.

The senator, in his statement during the hearing, also detailed the destructive effects recent natural disasters have inflicted on the country.

"All of us must be aware of the ongoing havoc caused by the recent eruption of the Taal Volcano in Batangas. Billions of pesos worth of losses have been incurred, and the lives, health, and well-being of at least 270,000 Filipinos have been put in peril," Go said.

"And what makes the situation worse for the national government is that the eruption came on the heels of a series of strong earthquakes in the southern parts of Mindanao and of two typhoons that hit parts of the Visayas and Luzon," he added.

While Go acknowledged that natural disasters "are beyond the control of man", he said that there are so much the government can do to mitigate their negative effects.

"Unfortunately, our existing laws do not provide us the best mechanism to do this," he said.

Go cited that lack of unity in command and direction and a central authority to oversee the efforts as the main concerns that must be addressed through legislation.

"This measure seeks to address these concerns. Sa pamamagitan ng DDR, magkakaroon tayo ng cabinet secretary - isang point person na iisa lamang ang focus ng trabaho - with a clear mandate and that is to handle all the concerns related to disaster preparedness, mitigation, rehabilitation and disaster resilience," he said.

"Iisa na lamang ang magiging boses ng pamahalaan. Wala ng turuan, wala ng sisihan," he added.

Currently, NDRRMC is chaired by the Secretary of the Department of National Defense and its executive director is the administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

"Masyado na pong maraming ginagawa ang ating DND Secretary at ang iba pang miyembro ng gabinete na kasama sa NDRRMC. Sa oras ng sakuna, madalas ay iba-iba ang pananaw ng mga ahensiya ng gobyernong nakapaloob sa NDRRMC dahil iba-iba rin ang kanilang mandato. Walang iisang focus. Walang iisang layunin," Go said.

"Sa halip na mabigyan ng pag-asa ang mga taong nasalanta, lalo pang dumadagdag ang pahirap sa kanila dahil hindi nila alam kung sino ang dapat lapitan. Pati po ang Pangulo, nahihirapan rin dahil sa kawalan ng sole authority na dapat gumanap ng tungkulin para i-address ang problemang idinudulot ng madalas na sakuna sa ating bansa," he said.

Go also stressed the need to having a point person with a rank of cabinet secretary in charge of disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. He cited the difficulty being encountered by the current structure where in departments and agencies encounter problems in coordination in the absence of a sole authority in charge.

"Sa totoo lang po, 'yun talaga ang gobyerno ngayon. Kailangan talaga mayroong in-charge para maiwan (at tumutok) dito, para mas handa tayo," he said.

Ending his statement, Go reiterated that a more proactive approach to disaster management is needed to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and calamities.

"Hindi natin dapat hintayin pa na magkaroon pa ng isa pang sakuna. Matuto na tayo. We must do it now. Hindi dapat ad hoc ang pag-iisip natin pagdating sa kalamidad na kung kailan lang magkaroon ng sakuna saka pa lang tayo aaksyon. Ilang beses na ito nangyari sa ating bansa. Dapat, proactive tayo," he said.

According to Go, more than structural change in the bureaucracy, the measure is also pushing for a more proactive mindset and approach. He added, "Kung handa ang gobyerno, magiging mas handa ang Pilipino."

The Senator, therefore, called on his fellow lawmakers to support the creation of the DDR and "give the people what they need."

"Ito ang rason kung bakit po ako nananawagan sa aking mga kasamahan, let us give the people what they need. Sama-sama nating isulong ang pagbuo ng Department of Disaster Resilience," he ended.

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