Leyte lawmaker, allies seek NDRRMC's abolition

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THE House independent bloc on Wednesday sought to abolish the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and replace it with an independent agency of the national government which will solely focus on handling calamity-related operations.

The bloc, led by Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, instead proposed the creation of the Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (DDPEM) to address issues related to all natural and man-made calamities.

The bloc noted its frustration over the "significant losses of life, injury, and damage to property" due to typhoon Yolanda despite the disaster preparation and coordination plans of the NDRRMC.

"Despite the government's efforts and preparations, thousands of people perished. Damage to business, property and agriculture were in such magnitude that economic activities were placed on standstill. A few days after typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas region, the national government was criticized and blamed by international media for the slow response and lack of support to the victims in the affected areas," the group said.

House Bill 3486 states that instead of the NDRRMC, which is chaired by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, the DDPEM will be an agency with a Cabinet secretary focused on its operations.

"This new Department will drastically reduce, if not totally eliminate, the bureaucratic red tape which has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by the victims," Romualdez said.

With the creation of the DDPEM, priority in hiring its employees shall be given to the affected agencies, including the NDRRMC and the Office of Civil Defense.

To carry out the provisions of the proposed law, the appropriations for the current fiscal year as well as the existing funds, assets, and resources of the abolished offices shall be transferred to the DDPEM.

Formerly the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the NDRRMC is currently under the Department of National Defense.

Included in the council are heads of the departments of Social Welfare and Development, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology and the National Economic and Development Authority to provide an inter-agency and multi-sectoral approach in handling disasters. (Sunnex)

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