NOW, teeth and claws are given to local disaster coordinating councils all over the country.

As the nation celebrates the National Disaster Consciousness Month, stakeholders giving immediate relief goods, like noodles, canned goods, and toiletries, to calamities and disasters victims warned enterprising individuals tampering these goods and reselling them at cheap prices at the city's market.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Olive Luces said: "These goods intended for victims of calamities should reach them and anyone caught reselling these goods will be penalized."

The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 mandates the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to punish individuals tampering or trading relief goods.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Director Porfiria Bernardez, however, lamented that there is no way to find out if canned goods or noodles being sold in the city market are old relief goods because these remain unmarked.

In Dolores, Abra an incoming and yet to be proclaimed mayor allegedly ordered the distribution of rice donations from the World Food Program, said Bernardez.

This instance of mishandling of relief goods, Luces said, or even hoarding of relief goods for victims of calamities, are now punishable by a P500,000 fine plus imprisonment.

"Report to us those who are tampering or reselling these relief goods and we'll file appropriate cases against them," Bernardez warned.

Some donors allegedly were disappointed when they heard about the reselling of relief goods intended for the victims of Typhoon Pepeng.

The DSWD decided to pull out rice donations of the World Food Program, totaling to about 600 sacks, from the Municipal Hall of Dolores, Abra and transfer them to the warehouse of the Provincial Government.

Bernardez said this is to ensure the incoming local officials will not meddle in its distribution allocated already by the previous administration for specified beneficiaries.

She added they will be releasing the rice donations as soon as policies on its distribution will be sorted out by the local government unit and the agency.

The newly passed National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act's provisions such as the apprehension of tampered relief goods resellers are just some of the new law's salient features, said Luces.

Other features include the recognition of the NDCC and granting local government units powers to spend more than five percent of their internal revenue allotments for calamities and disasters.

Moreover, the new law also provides for the creation of new policies and plans and the implementation of actions and measures pertaining to all aspects of disaster risk reduction and management, including good governance, risk assessment and early warning, knowledge building and awareness raising, reducing underlying risk factors, and preparedness for effective response and early recovery.

The NDCC will now be called the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRM) and has powers in policy-making, coordination, integration, supervision, monitoring and evaluation.

It is also stated in the law that among the functions of the NDRMC are the development of a comprehensive, multi-sectoral, and community-based approach to disaster risk reduction and management through a national disaster risk reduction and management framework.

Local government units such as barangays are also tasked to dissolve their barangay disaster coordinating councils and serve as local disaster risk reduction and management councils, instead. (JM Agreda)