Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Salceda introduces NDRRMA as 'world's best approach to disasters
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, July 20 (PNA) -- Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda has introduced in Congress what he describes as ‘the world’s best approach to disaster risk reduction’ (DRR).

Salceda proposes an independent Authority dedicated to pre-disaster risk reduction and post-disaster reconstruction.

Picking up from where he left as a multi-awarded local government executive who pioneered effective emergency response programs, Salceda has filed House Bill 1648 which will radicalize the country’s disaster risk reduction and management system. HB 1648 seeks to amend R.A. 10121, the country’s disaster risk reduction and management law, and further strengthen calamity response by “institutionalizing the framework and plan, and establishing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA).”

Salceda’s nine years as governor of Albay saw the transformation of his prostrate province that was constantly battered by strong typhoons and mired in poverty to become a vibrant local economy it is now today. Albay has been the first province to win the Gawad KALASAG Hall of Fame honor, following its three successive awards as best in Disaster Risk Reduction.

Salceda said the measure he seeks to establish, offers what could be the best approach to DRR, and may be considered radical in many ways. NDRRMA will be an independent Authority; it promotes risk reduction initiatives’ and stresses the primacy of rehabilitation effort. The agency has a proposed initial budget of P10 billion. It shall be attached to the Office of the President, considering its emergency role in times of disasters.

Although a landmark legislation, Salceda said the structural strength of RA 10121 has continuously been stress-tested by calamitous disasters, tge latest of which was supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 – which took almost 10,000 lives and destroyed billions of pesos of livelihoods and economic assets in one swoop. He noted that Yolanda’s devastation exposed the weaknesses of the institutional set up under RA 10121, where extreme difficulties were encountered in carrying out the heavy responsibilities of concretely integrating the disaster risk management in national and local planning processes… that should mitigate the impacts of disasters.

“RA 10121’s shortcoming is its failure to create an institution that is sufficiently in a high position to oversee the implementation of streamlined disaster risk reduction and management policies nationwide, an institution that has the necessary authority, mandate and resources to lead and coordinate the efforts of different stakeholders towards a more resilient nation,” he explained.

Salceda was former governor of Albay for three terms before he won the May elections as Congressman representing the province’s 2nd district. He was co-chair of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Green Climate Fund from 2013 to 2014. He was declared by the UN as its Senior Global Champion for DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA), while Albay was designated as its Global Model.

As governor, he popularized the much acclaimed disaster risk reduction principles of “Preemptive Evacuation” and “Zero Casualty,” which have become household bywords. Aside from his novel CCA and DRR approaches, he also spearheaded the Green Economy program, which transformed calamity proned Albay to a booming LGU economy and is now a global tourism destination, with poverty incidence that slid down from 32 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2015, the lowest in Bicol.

When created, the NDRRMA shall be the primary government agency accountable and responsible for coordinating, overseeing and implementing a comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management program. Salceda said it shall provide leadership in the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to disaster prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation.

HB 1648 also proposes the transfer of the personnel of the Office of Civil Defense, which is presently under the Department of National Defense, to the new disaster management agency that shall also strengthen the implementation of DRRM programs in collaboration with relevant national government agencies, LGUs, civil society and people’s organizations, and other stakeholders, he added. (PNA) BNB/JCN/EDS