Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian is supporting the Philippine National Police’s request for additional budget that will be used to purchase the needed gears and equipment that will be used by policemen in times of disasters and calamities.
Gatchalian said he agrees with the observation of PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez that while the PNP’s main mission is crime prevention and crime solution, the police are the first responders during times of natural calamities and disasters.
“It is but proper that the Department of Budget and Management earmark a budget for the PNP that will allow the organization to procure the much-needed gears and equipment for effective disaster response,” said Gatchalian, who represents Valenzuela City’s 1st Congressional District.
Gatchalian recalled that at the height of Typhoon Yolanda, police officers in Eastern Visayas (Region 8) were the first to respond to the situation as they are stationed in the areas affected by the super typhoon almost two years ago.
Gatchalian said the lessons of Typhoon Yolanda should have prompted the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), then headed by Secretary Mar Roxas, to seek additional budget from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the procurement of gears and equipment for the PNP’s disaster response capability.
“The DILG has administrative supervision over the PNP and the lessons learned from Yolanda and the succeeding typhoons showed that the police have always been on the frontlines of rescue and response operations in typhoon-affected areas,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Gatchalian said he is hopeful that Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento will push for the PNP’s additional budget for human and disaster response (HADR) component similar to what the Armed Forces have in their budget.
“There is no question that the police presence in typhoon-ravaged areas proved a big help to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Being in the frontline the PNP is a reliable source of disaster-related information,” said Gatchalian.
Three weeks before the commemoration of the Typhoon Yolanda tragedy, Gatchalian is pushing for the creation of school disaster committees conducting safety drills to prepare children for emergencies.
House Bill No. 6181, which Gatchalian filed on Sept. 29, seeks to “institutionalize the conduct of regular drills and provide evaluations for an effective assessment of the disaster management plan.”
“The occurrence of natural or human-induced disasters do not give us warnings nor the time to make quick judgments. Because of their age and vulnerability, children most likely will be helpless and susceptible to panic and despair,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House committee on Metro Manila development and a majority member of the committees
Gatchalian’s measure calls for the establishment of a disaster management committee in each school who will oversee the disaster reduction and preparedness activities and maintain formal links between the local risk reduction and management council.
The committee in all basic and higher education institutions as well as technical-vocational and training schools shall be responsible for the conduct of drills for earthquakes, fire, and other emergencies.
It shall also submit an evaluation of the conduct of such drills to the concerned DepEd office. The committee is also tasked to identify high-risk areas in the school and to develop a school disaster management plan.
Basic education institutions, including pre-schools, are expected to conduct at least five safety drills and higher education and vocational schools every semester or at least twice a year.
Each committee shall be headed by the school principal or president and composed of representatives from the teaching- and non-teaching personnel, students, parent-teacher associations, barangay council, religious sector, and the community.
School managers who fail or refuse to carry out the proposed measure shall be warned for the first offense but will be fined P100,000 for the second offense, P200,000 for the third, and P300,000 with one-month imprisonment for subsequent offenses. (R. Burgos)