LEYTE Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez urged President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday to certify as urgent a bill to create a separate department to exclusively manage disasters and calamities in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that rocked Eastern Visayas and the destruction caused by fighting in Marawi City.
Romualdez, a member of the committee on climate change, said her House Bill No. 344 aims to drastically reduce red tape in the delivery of assistance during natural and man-made disasters.
“I am appealing to our President to certify my bill as urgent measure because this will help mitigate the impact of future disasters and save lives and property,” said Romualdez.
“We need a department that would solely focus on natural and man-made calamities without the ugly red tape that has caused many delays in the delivery of immediate assistance needed by the victims,” Romualdez said.
She also appealed to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to include her bill seeking to create the Department of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management among the priority measures, adding that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is not enough to address the various concerns during calamities.
“The current set-up has proven to be inadequate in preparing our country from major calamities which we will have to face on a yearly basis. 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,” she said.
In the wake of the fighting in Marawi, she added, there was a need to strengthen the government’s arm in delivering assistance to victims of man-made calamities.
HB No. 344 was originally advocated by Romualdez’s husband, former Leyte congressman Martin Romualdez.
The latest earthquake that struck Eastern Visayas killed two people, injured 72 others, and caused damage estimated at P108.45 million, with more than 1,000 houses damaged.
The aftershocks and the announcement of an extended power outage in the provinces of Bohol, Samar, Biliran and Southern Leyte and parts of Leyte have added to the residents’ sense of devastation, Romualdez said.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said Sunday it is working on restoring power in Samar, Leyte, Biliran, and Bohol and is testing of its substation before allowing power from Cebu to flow through the Tabango-Ormoc bypass line, which was completed on Saturday.
National Grid completed the Tabango-Ormoc bypass line at 9:26 p.m. Saturday and further testing is currently being done at the Ormoc substation.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi thanked crews that worked on 24-hour shifts to bring back electricity within three to five days in the quake-affected areas in the Visayas, especially in Leyte.
Cusi on Saturday conducted an aerial and ground inspection of the various power plants, including geothermal facilities, that sustained damage from the magnitude 6.5 quake that recently hit the region.
Cusi said he hoped that power will be fully restored within seven days with the implementation of a combination of bypass and build-back-better program.
The National Electrification Administration, meanwhile, has organized the Power Restoration Rapid Deployment task force to assist the quake struck electric cooperatives in the Visayas, Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said over the weekend.
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