PRESIDENT Rody Dutuerte’s SONA could not possibly give details about every important program of his administration. But a SONA does mark for the people which activities a president thinks should be given top priority.
Disaster response together with disaster risk reduction should be treated as a high priority by any president. The people, specially the poorest among us, suffer a lot because of natural and recurring disasters brought about by heavy rains and typhoons. May God will the predicted earthquakes to never come. Our entire country suffers because these disasters cause heavy economic losses.
President Duterte apparently ranks disaster response as a high priority because he mentioned it along with some of the important concerns. He said, “We will continue to expand cooperation on human assistance, disaster response, maritime security and counter terrorism. We shall deepen security dialogues with other nations to build greater understanding and cooperation.” And in many parts of his speech, when talking about the environment and working with DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, he was obviously thinking of how to spare the people from suffering from weather and environmental degradation.
We agree with the civil society organization (CSO) Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines or NetPhils that the following are the most urgent and immediate priority acts the President and his DRR people should do–before anything else–for effective disaster risk reduction and management:
1. Certify as urgent the passage of an amendatory bill to Republic Act 10121 that will establish an independent National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority.
2. Certify as urgent the passage of a comprehensive legislation that will protect and promote the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially in disaster and conflict-affected areas.
3. Direct the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to immediately take action on Yolanda reconstruction and recovery issues and fast track implementation of reconstruction programs in Yolanda–affected areas particularly on resilient human settlements.
4. Direct the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to issue a clear policy guideline on the proactive use of the National DRRM Fund particularly for high risk and low-income LGUs.
5. Direct the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to intensify inclusive capacity building programs and ensure that Local DRRM Offices are functional and that permanent DRRM Officers are in place.
6. Direct the NDRRMC to create a program supporting the establishment of safe, resilient, and multi-purpose evacuation centers, prioritizing high-risk and vulnerable areas.
7. Direct the NDRRMC to issue a clear policy guideline to ensure inclusive participation and representation of CSOs at the local level.
8. Direct the NDRRMC to develop a Magna Carta for DRRM Workers and volunteers.
9. Direct the NDRRMC to ensure accountability of public officials as stipulated in Republic Act 10121.
NetPhils issued a press statement urging the President to really give this concern top priority. The statement contains these proposed actions.
We pray the President gets to read it or is at least made aware by his aides of this priority list.