THE Senate passed on third and final reading Monday a bill which seeks to engage the youth in the country's disaster risk reduction program.

Senate Bill 2789 aims to amend Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act by involving "responsive, empowered and service-centered” youth aged 15 to 30 in the disaster risk reduction and mitigation efforts.

"The youth is playing a vital role in our pursuit for overall disaster resilience. They have served as a beacon of hope and catalyst of action," said Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate youth committee.

Citing 2013 Climate Risk Index ranking Philippines as the top country affected by extreme weather events with over $24 billion in losses, Aquino said it is important to move from post-disaster relief to proactive disaster preparedness with impending disasters in the country.

"Youth have been creating innovative solutions to help communities become more resilient and adaptive to the changing climate, leading schools to become depositories of donations and centers for packing and deployment of relief goods, and using the social media for information, tips, and news monitoring during typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic movements," Aquino said.

Under the bill, the chairman of the National Youth Commission (NYC) will be a member in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to voice out the concerns and proposals of the Filipino youth on disaster prevention, promotion, education, rescue and rehabilitation.

The NDRRMC chairman may also assign civic and youth organizations to assist in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

Representatives from the civil society and youth organizations may join in regional level, a local youth representative in local level, and one youth representative under NYC and the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson in barangay level.

"There is nothing to lose but so much to gain from engaging the youth in our quest to build a Philippines that is capable of efficiently responding to natural calamities ad able to reduce its negative impact on society," Aquino said.

"It is in trusting each other's abilities and uniting all sectors, including the youth, that we can develop a Philippines that is well informed, incredibly prepared, and exceptionally resilient to disaster," he added. (Sunnex)