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Salceda seconds Duterte call for amendments to National DRR Law; Principal author of DDR bill says law creates “more responsive” system for declaring state of calamity

December 29th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), principal author of House Bill No. 5989 or the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) Bill, agreed with President Duterte’s call for a system of declaring a state of calamity that is more responsive to the needs of disaster-stricken areas.

“I agree with President Duterte that we need to amend the National Disaster Risk Reduction Law or RA 10121 to make the system for declaring a state of calamity more immediately responsive to the needs of affected communities,” Salceda said.

“During disaster, quick response time saves lives. So we cannot afford the delay caused by the need for validation of conditions for a state of calamity declaration.”

RA 10121 currently mandates the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to make the recommendation for the declaration of a state of calamity by the President, based on certain criteria set by the NDRRMC. The current criteria include having at least 15% of the population of the area affected in need of emergency assistance, at least 30% of livelihood is affected, and damage to critical infrastructure is present.

Salceda says that “the metrics are highly arbitrary” and that a more responsive system is being proposed under HB 5989.

“There is a hierarchy of declarations in HB 5989. For multiple regions affected by a disaster, as is the case now, the Secretary of the DDR, recommends the declaration to the President. One does not need consensus from different agencies or some inspection to validate whether the metrics are present,” Salceda added.

“President Duterte is correct that we need a more responsive DRR framework and HB 5989 provides that framework,” Salceda also said.

In HB 5989, Salceda explained, the metric is simpler.

“In our proposal, the condition is simply that there is an “extraordinary disaster wherein the repercussions on public safety and welfare are serious and far-reaching.””

“That more qualitative and therefore more easily verified condition is easier to validate. That means the President can declare a state of calamity faster,” Salceda said.

Salceda also says that the proposed bill even allows the President to declare a state of calamity in preparation for a disaster.

“Under our proposal, a state of imminent danger can be a cause for activating emergency and calamity measures under a state of calamity. The measure allows an anticipatory declaration when ‘The occurrence is likely to cause a threat to life or danger to property’”

“That allows us to probabilistically anticipate the worst, as could have been extremely useful in Odette,” Salceda said.

Salceda also emphasized that he hopes the measure could be enacted into law next year, when Congress resumes session.

“I remain highly hopeful that the Senate will respond to the call of the times by passing its own version of the DDR bill, so we can talk about it in bicam before PRRD’s term ends,” Salceda said. (end)

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