OCD exec raises concern on creation of disaster resilience department

A JOINT Senate panel agreed on Monday to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), but an Office of Civil Defense (OCD) official said such an agency might could be “overwhelming” considering the many aspects of disaster management. OCD Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad raised concern on the integration of different disaster-related functions into one office. “That would be a very big function to be placed under one department,” Mr. Jalad told the panel, suggesting that the function of the DDR be limited to planning. “Lead role can be latched in the department. For the implementation, it would still rely on the lead agencies.” He cited as an example the rehabilitation of Marawi City, which was devastated in the 2017 seige staged by Islamic State-affiliated local extremists. “For Marawi alone sir, it will be overwhelming for one department to undertake all those reconstruction.” Senator Francis N. Tolentino explained that the creation of the new department would not be overwhelming as existing agencies — such as the Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration — will only be transferred. BFP is currently under the Department of Interior and Local Government while PHIVOLCS and PAGASA are under the Department of Science and Technology. The Senate joint panel also discussed the bureaucratic and budgetary concerns in establishing a new government office. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Senate approves Malasakit Center bill on 3rd reading

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THE PROPOSED measure establishing Malasakit Centers in all Department of Health (DoH)-run hospitals nationwide and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) hurdled the Senate on third and final reading on Monday. With 18 affirmative votes and zero negative, the chamber passed Senate Bill No. 1076, or the “Malasakit Centers Act,” intended to put in place a one-stop shop for medical and financial assistance. “The Malasakit Center is one of the solutions the Duterte government has developed to provide quick and quality access to health care to all Filipinos,” Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go said in his sponsorship speech Monday. The measure was among the bills mentioned by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address last July. Eighteen counterpart measures have also been filed in the House of Representatives, which are currently pending at the committee level. The bill is intended to complement next year’s implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, which will grant all Filipinos access to medicines and health care services. “For most of our countrymen, hospitalization is a luxury they cannot afford. The body may be willing, but the pocket is not. The result is that six in 10 deaths in this country are unattended by a doctor,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto said in his explanation of vote. — Charmaine A. Tadalan