Gatchalian wants local government units (LGUs) to be better equipped in their disaster-preparedness program to mitigate the impact of disasters and calamities due to extreme weather conditions. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has warned of an El Niño from June to August this year which could bring above-normal rainfall at the same time.
Specifically, Gatchalian wants LGUs to have more leeway in implementing projects that would strengthen their disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and rehabilitation capabilities. To set this in motion, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 939, An Act Expanding The Application Of The Local Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Fund, amending Republic Act 10121, otherwise known as The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
He pointed out that RA 10121, which transformed LGUs’ calamity funds into the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) Fund, already authorized LGUs to utilize their calamity fund for projects and programs that enhance disaster preparedness and mitigate the effects of calamities. However, there are cases where some LGUs are unable to hire the necessary manpower that would enable them to have adequate response and assistance to affected citizens during disasters, Gatchalian said. Also, disaster-mitigation efforts would be greatly improved if LGUs have the necessary funds to provide local infrastructure projects designed to protect their localities against natural disasters, he added.
To address such issues, the proposed measure seeks to use the LDRRM Fund in financing infrastructure projects designed to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, paying for obligations incurred in funding projects related to disaster preparedness and mitigation, and hiring necessary personnel required to implement disaster risk reduction and management programs.
PAGASA has recently issued an El Niño alert. It also launched a P1.2 billion impact-based forecasting project which aims to provide data that will help authorities in taking the necessary action in response to hazards.
“Ang epekto ng mga kalamidad na kagaya ng El Nino at iba pang mga sakuna ay maiiwasan kung bibigyan natin ang LGUs ng kakayahan na mapalakas ang kanilang abilidad na makapagsagawa ng mga proyekto kabilang na ang pagpapatayo ng mga imprastraktura na makakatulong sa kanila sa oras ng kalamidad at iba pang sakuna,” Gatchalian pointed out.
The El Nino phenomenon, which brings drier weather conditions could pose risks to food security as farmers grapple with low rainfall conditions and could adversely impact economies across the globe.