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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Salceda: More groups push for DDR bill passage

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More institutions and groups have joined the mounting calls for the Senate to hasten the enactment of the pending Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Act, deemed as the country’s coherent blueprint for survival against natural calamities brought about by climate change and even pandemics.

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, House Ways and Means Committee chair, said the DDR will be the primary agency “responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and mitigate disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate and build forward better after the destruction.”

Salceda, the measure’s principal author, said the latest to join the push for the DDR creation are the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI), Greenpeace Philippines, and the Local Climate Change Adaptation for Development (LCCAD). 

The groups, he said, have partnered with the House to amplify the call for the bill’s passage and “ensure that the current and future generations of Filipinos will survive the projected accelerating impacts of climate change and disasters.”

Last month, the House Committee on Disaster Resilience approved House Resolution No. 535 authored by Salceda, declaring a disaster and climate emergency in the country, referred to as the “necessary first of many steps” for a whole-of-government, whole-of-society and whole-of-nation response.

Despite having established national agencies such as the Climate Change Commission and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, the resolution stressed that the country continues to grapple with institutional issues on climate and disaster governance. 

In addition, the UPRI, Greenpeace and LCCAD also advocated several policy actions to address the country’s disaster and climate emergency such as declaring 2020 as a Disaster and Climate Emergency awareness year; raising awareness on the salient features of the DDR bill; and calling for international humanitarian assistance following the recent calamities that struck the country.

In a recent online forum, UPRI Executive Director Mahar Lagmay stressed the importance of planning to prepare for present and future hazards amplified by climate change. 

“Scientific planning across various sectors of society is one of the most effective tools to mitigate the harsh impacts of natural hazards. When combined with education and awareness-building to embed a culture of safety, it becomes the real early action measure in a people-centered early warning system,” Lagmay explained.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Naderev Saño said genuine disaster and climate resilience goes beyond mere survival and preparation, and the public should stop equating “climate resiliency” with highly vulnerable communities and sectors hoping to simply try and survive the impacts of climate emergencies.

“We need coherent strategies  rooted in clear and immediately implementable policies that protect people and the environment, and  ensure that those least responsible for emissions and yet suffe the worst impacts are finally granted climate justice and a better future,” Saño said.

The climate change group LCCAD in a recent statement said these policy actions — the DDR passage and the declaration of disaster and climate change emergency — are key to further enhancing the country’s disaster-climate resilience action.

In the Senate, Sen. Christopher Go has also reiterated his call for the creation of the DDR.

Go, who authored the Senate DDR version, said the measure shall provide a clearer chain of command, more responsive mechanisms and a more holistic, proactive approach in handling crisis situations in the country where natural disasters are already "normal occurrences."

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