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Palace backs bill seeking to create disaster response agency

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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 20th Cabinet Meeting in Malacañan Palace in this file photo taken on December 5, 2017. REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his Cabinet “approved” last Monday, July 9, the proposal to create a new department on disaster resilience, Malacañang said.

“Palace will also draft an executive bill on the creation of this new department to be submitted to Congress… Target na maisabatas ay (The target is to sign this into law) within the year,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a phone interview with reporters on Tuesday, July 10.

He added: “Gusto daw kasi ng Pangulo na iisa lang ang tututok sa mga disaster/calamity response and the like.”

(The President wants that there should only be one department to focus on disaster and calamity response.)

In August 2017, Albay Representative Joey S. Salceda filed House Bill 6075, which seeks to the create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to seeking to create an independent agency that will handle the country’s disaster preparedness and emergency management.

According to a press brief posted on the House of Representatives website, there are seven other House bills relating to disasters. As such, the House committees on government reorganization and national defense and security have jointly formed a technical working group (TWG) that will harmonize eight bills.

As for the budget allocation, Mr. Roque said: “Paglalaanan ng sariling budget ang department pero hindi pa sya kasama sa 2019 proposed budget.”

(The department will have a budget allocation, but it will not be included yet in the proposed budget for 2019.)

He also said: “Maaring hugutin sa contingency fund na around P30B ang nakalaan sa 2019.” (The budget can be taken from the contingency fund of P30 billion in the proposed 2019 budget.)

Also in his press briefing in Indang, Cavite on Tuesday, Mr. Roque said the Philippine government will extend help to the victims of typhoon in Japan.

Kinukumpirma ko rin po nagkaroon ng desisyon na magpadala po ng tulong sa bansang Japan dahil nga po nasalanta sila ng walang tigil na ulan. Ang tulong po is, pagpapadala ng mga enhinyero at saka mga doktor at ng gamot. Wala pa pong halaga, at si Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano po ang magpapadala ng mensaheng ito sa Ambahador ng Japan,” Mr. Roque said.

(I confirm that there is a decision to extend help to Japan for the typhoon victims there. We will send engineers, doctors, and medicines. There is no exact amount yet, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano will relay the message to the Japanese Ambassador.) — Arjay L. Balinbin