Press Release
November 8, 2020

Logistical boost more than legislating new agency needed for robust disaster response

The country's vulnerability to disasters requires "a logistical answer" beyond the mere creation of the Department of Disaster Resiliency (DDR), said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

"There are many gaps in our calamity response and disaster resiliency. But the greatest gap is not the absence of some central agency, but in deployable logistics to respond to calamities," Recto said.

Recto said many initiatives which can be done now are not contingent on the establishment of a new department. "Cutting the red tape that slows down the release of calamity fund is one."

"Merong mahabang documentary requirements. Pero kung walang kuryente, nilipad ang computers, wasak ang opisina, nasugatan ang personnel na magco-collate, paano ka gagawa ng request?" Recto said.

"The Quick Response Fund or QRF should be quickly released. In the case of Bicol and Southern Tagalog, ang relief at rehab dapat singbilis ng hangin ni Typhoon Rolly," he said.

"You don't need a new department to set up regional hubs and stockpiles of food, medicine, PPEs and construction materials," Recto said. "Pre-positioning and forward-deploying these will spare us from transporting relief goods all the way from Manila."

"Pag-aralan na rin ang pagbuo ng 'ready-to-deploy disaster response brigades,' with one each stationed in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao," he added.

Drawn from military and police units, each brigade shall consist of medical companies, a construction battalion, hygiene and sanitation specialists, among others.

Recto said government should also tap local shipbuilders in building a fleet of hospital ships. "We are an archipelago, and when roads are damaged many areas can only be reached by sea."

"A hospital ship can also be a floating HQ of all disaster response units. Kung Ro-Ro, pwedeng magsakay ng road clearing equipment at power utility line men. Ang barko, may sariling kuryente--kaya self-contained unit 'yan."

Recto said "merely re-assembling agencies under one roof and then slapping a label na 'department' na kayo is not what our status as disaster-prone country solely needs."

He is backing more funds to local governments "because it is there on the ground that resilience and readiness are achieved," Recto said. "We don't need a top-heavy bureaucracy."

"Kung i-diagram mo ang proseso sa pag-avail ng calamity funds, parang wiring ng kuryente. From request to approval, to release, to procurement, to delivery of reconstruction materials, and construction, easily one hundred steps. Kawawa talaga ang mga local governments," Recto lamented.

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