Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has expressed his support anew for President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to amend Republic Act (RA) 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
The senator stressed that the government should always be a step ahead when it comes to disaster response and to ensure that there will be swift action on rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations should disasters strike.
Go explained that under RA 10121, there is no concept of anticipatory action and earlier declaration of a state of calamity prior to actual damage by various calamities, which Duterte earlier described as a legal hurdle that prevents swift government action.
Go said that he is consulting concerned authorities in order to propose a measure that can amend this law and expedite the process of declaring a state of calamity in severely affected areas, when necessary, by waiving the need for a thorough assessment of damage prior to a declaration.
He added that it will subsequently hasten the release of necessary public funds for disaster response.
To recall, the President — in his weekly Talk to the People address — pointed out the flaws of RA 10121 when it comes to dealing with disasters as the law stipulates that a declaration of state of calamity may only be made, as well as the release of funds, after the conduct of the damage assessment and needs analysis, delaying government response.
“I hope we can correct these things before we go out,” said Duterte, as he asked Go to look into the matter and lead efforts to rectify the existing law before his term ends.
“We can propose something like this… some corrective measures in the law. So when we are no longer here, at least the next administration would be in a position to deal with the problem faster and more sensible,” he added.
Under Section 16 of RA 10121, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council shall recommend to the President the declaration of a cluster of barangays, municipalities, cities, provinces, and regions under a state of calamity, and the lifting thereof, based on the criteria set by the National Council. The President’s declaration may warrant international humanitarian assistance as deemed necessary.