Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the amendment to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 by empowering the Local Government Units (LGUs) and strengthening existing local disaster risk reduction and management offices. This will increase the capability and capacity of communities to maintain basic functions during disasters.
The former mayor of Valenzuela reiterated his call for a review of the law amid proposals to create a separate department of disaster management at the local level, stressing that the current law has fundamental flaws that restrict the disaster response and risk reduction capabilities of LGUs.
Gatchalian cited the glaring inequity on the allocation of calamity funds to LGUs. To illustrate his point, the senator pointed out that Makati City, one of the richest cities in the country, can have as much as P700 million-calamity fund annually while Batangas, where an active volcano is located, has lesser calamity fund.
He said funds to be allocated and used in creating a new department can be utilized by LGUs to strengthen their disaster preparedness and response initiatives.
“The Framework laid down in the NDRRMC law is working but needs to be enhanced by studying how we can reallocate and provide funds for disaster preparedness, risk reduction, response and recovery to help cities and municipalities that are within geohazard areas”, Gatchalian said.
“Naniniwala ako na dapat balanse ang lahat ng LGUs. The only way to empower the LGUs is to give them more funds. We cannot push our LGUs too much kung wala naman silang pondo. This is where the national government should come in and make it equitable,” he added.
Gatchalian also cited that the current law does not include the designation of an officer-in-charge of disaster risk management, making it difficult for LGUs to institutionalize and implement Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) plans even with a change in administration.
The creation of permanent positions in the local disaster risk reduction and management office will transfer the functions and responsibilities from the governor or mayor to the officer-in-charge.
“There’s no person in charge and we can assume that the mayor or the governor is the one in-charge, but they are busy on some other concerns on a day-to-day basis,” Gatchalian said.
On July 24, 2019, Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 746 (SBN 746) or An Act Expanding the Application of The Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund by Amending the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
SBN 746 proposes the use of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) in funding infrastructure projects designed to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. The bill will allow the LGUs to use the LDRRMF to pay for obligations incurred in funding projects related to disaster preparedness and mitigation, including the hiring of necessary personnel.