RESOURCE PERSONS told a Senate committee that they support the current disaster coordination set-up as legislators heard evidence Wednesday on a measure proposing to create a Department of Disaster resilience.

The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) recommended that the government preserve the current role of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

“I believe that we have to give a chance to the NDRRMC because it has been there for just a couple of years and we can see that in recent occurrences of disasters, it is the President himself who said he is satisfied with the way the coordination of the response was done,” Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña told the panel.

“If I were to be asked, I would prefer that we maintain the NDRRMC.”

He also opposed the transfer of agencies under the DoST to the proposed Department, including the key offices that deal with weather forecasting and seismology.

“The mandates of PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), and PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) should remain with the DoST because they are science institutions.”

PHIVOLCS Director Renato U. Solidum said the agency’s transfer might prevent it from carrying out its mission, and proposed capacity-building measures to the increase disaster-management expertise of the proposed department.

“What is needed in the Philippines are disaster-risk managers and disaster managers. These are the competencies that we need in the new department and that is what we lack,” he said.

“Simply coordinating teams will not solve the problem. We need people to really focus on things, but other departments will still continue to do their jobs.”

Office of Civil Defense administrator Ricardo B. Halad noted that some of the proposed department’s functions have been devolved to local governments.

“The issuance of building permits is done by the local chief executive, the formulation of CLUPs or Comprehensive Land Use Plans, is done by the local government unit and these are approved by either provincial governors or the Housing and Land Use (Regulatory) Board. I don’t see the role for the DDR,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan