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Dept. of Disaster Resilience

By Johnny Dayang

An amorphous concept until recently, climate change is now a stark reality. Disastrous cyclones now frequently ravage countries worldwide. Typhoon “Agaton” stormed Mindanao on New Year’s Day, closely following typhoons “Urduja” and “Vinta” which battered Visayas and Mindanao last December and triggered flashfloods and landslides. Together with the Marawi onslaught, they left behind hundreds of lives lost, thousands of evacuees, and damaged crops, properties, and infrastructures worth billions of pesos.

Happily, Congress reportedly will prioritize House Bill 6075 which seeks the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DRR), which importance President Duterte will likely highlight in his forthcoming SoNA. A total of 22 disastrous typhoons, aside from man-made disasters, ravaged the country in 2017.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, a noted economist and disaster resilience advocate who authored HB 6075, said DRR will be a well-structured agency designed to manage a broad climate-disaster program of governance as the country confronts increasing calamities of greater frequency and magnitude.

“Now, more than ever, we need a super government agency, seeing the devastations around us every time disasters strike,” he stressed. DRR will be “tasked to carry out a continuous, consistent, and fortified calamity defense program and ensure the country’s sustainable development and inclusive growth.”

Indeed, we need “strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and effective rehabilitation and recovery program.” The DRR, with a specific mandate and authority, and backstopped by sufficient resources to address the crucial disaster issue, must be an urgent agenda of Congress.

The Philippines ranks third among 171 countries considered “most exposed and vulnerable to natural calamities,” and 13th in the Climate Change Vulnerability Index.

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Filipinos obviously prefer strong leaders like President Duterte who can literally grapple with festering social ills like corruption and illegal drugs. No wonder, he remains popular.

One group that staunchly backs the President’s reforms is the Solid Duterte Supporters Group (SDSG) which recently inaugurated its Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) and Nueva Ecija chapters. Games and Amusement Board Commissioner Mar Masanguid, SDSG founding chairman, and Secretary General Greg Conde jointly presided over their mass induction rites. SDSG has several existing organized chapters nationwide.

CAR BIR regional director Douglas Rufin and Gilbert Mojica lead the CAR chapter as regional chair and vice chair, respectively. The Nueva Ecija chapter has Ramoncito Tombo as chairman and Jose Ariel Domingo as vice chair.

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