SEN. Antonio Trillanes 4th has filed Senate Bill 819 seeking the establishment of a separate emergency response department, to free the Department of National Defense of this tedious job of chairing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (NDRRMC).
Trillanes said “the job of Secretary of National Defense is already taxing such that putting him in charge of NDRRMC will further make things difficult.”
Trillanes said the NDRRMC has its own share of problems being under the Department of National Defense (DND) and gets just a small budget slice from the DND.
Under the current set up, the Secretary of DND as chair of the NDRRMC can only focus on disaster management only during calamities, Trillanes said.
His bill seeks to establish a permanent, full-time national agency under the Office of the President, which shall replace the NDRRMC.
Unlike NDRRMC, which is limited to natural calamities, the emergency management agency (EMA) defines national emergency situations to include man-made disasters like fire, disease outbreak, and other emergencies.
The EMA will also be in charge of formulating policies aimed at reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating possible damage to life and property, initiating rapid and effective response to disasters, and effectively managing post-disaster recovery.
It will also be responsible for developing a comprehensive national emergency and disaster preparedness plan.
Trillanes’ EMA is similar to the proposed Senate Bill 1940 filed earlier by Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano seeking to establish an “Emergency Response Department” (ERD), a separate agency that will assume all of disaster risk reduction function of the NDRRMC) and Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
Cayetano’s proposed ERD will be headed by a person with a rank of Cabinet Secretary and will be completely focused on disaster preparedness “24 hours a day and 365 days a year.”
Cayetano said it is time to establish a focused and specialized single government agency that functions not only after the occurrence of disasters, but works all-year-round to ensure that effective mechanisms for disaster risk reduction are in place even before a disaster occurs.
“Such specialized department shall stubbornly focus bear laser-like preciseness in focus, give primacy to pre-disaster resilience-building, and prioritize life preservation and basic subsistence needs in the communities affected by a disaster,” he added.
Former Sen. Panfilo Lacson was appointed head of the body that would lead the rehabilitation efforts of the government on areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and other calamities.
However, despite the urgency President Benigno Aquino 3rd has yet to sign the executive order that would formalize Lacson’s duty as rehabilitation czar.