Belmonte, lawmakers back youth rep in disaster councils
MANILA, Philippines – A seat for the youth in the country's disaster risk reduction and management councils (DRRMCs) will be mandated by law, several lawmakers assured on Monday, May 18.
Speaking at a press conference at the House of Representatives, lawmakers pledged to support an amendment to Republic Act (RA) No. 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law, that will mandate the official representation of the youth in national and local disaster risk management councils. The amendment will consolidate House Bills (HB) Nos. 5637, 5640, and 5758.
Lawmakers expressed optimism the bill would pass before the end of the 16th Congress on June 11, 2015. (READ: Dingdong Dantes, NYC seek youth rep in disaster council)
“Siguro sa pagpapasa dito sa Lower House, we don’t really think mahihirapan tayo dahil marami po talagang sumusuporta talaga sa mga panukalang ganito,” said Zamboanga Del Norte first district representative Seth Jalosjos, principal author of HB 5640.
(We don’t really think we’ll find it difficult to pass the bill here in the Lower House, because there are many of us who are supporting bills like these.)
Quirino representative Dakila Cua added that they see “no major stumbling blocks” for the amendment of the law, “so perhaps we probably have a good chance of passing it before the end of the 16th Congress."
Aside from Cua and Jalosjos, the press conference was also attended by House representatives Alfredo Vargas III, author of HB 5758, Irwin Tieng, author of HB 5637, and Terry Ridon.
The National Youth Commission (NYC) is advocating for the law's ammendment to include youth representation at all levels. (READ: NYC: More involvement for young Pinoys in disaster planning)
Also in attendance were representatives from Akbayan Youth, Filipino Liberal Youth, Kabataang Liberal, Kabataan Party-list, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), Tanay Mountaineers, and YesPinoy Foundation, who gave their statements expressing support for the campaign.
‘Heroes of the future’
After the press briefing, lawmakers, together with Speaker Sonny Belmonte, signed a manifesto recognizing the urgency to amend RA 10121.
According to the manifesto, the legislators “firmly believe” that one of the easiest disaster risk reduction measures they can take is empowering the youth to be actively part of such efforts.
“[W]e commit to ensure the immediate passage of such a bill, because the youth is our last chance for the survival of our environment,” the manifesto read.
“We commit to empower them to become heroes of the future.”
Crucial role of the youth
Currently, Section 14 of RA 10121 mandates the NYC to coordinate with members of the government education cluster to integrate DRRM education in the secondary and tertiary level curricula.
However, youth participation is only “encouraged” in the local and national levels.
“The youth should be an integral part of the DRRMC as we send an urgent message to Congress to maximize the remaining session days to fast track the passage of the bill that is equally important with other measures that call for their immediate action,” said NYC Chairperson Gio Tingson.
NYC Commissioner-at-Large Jose Sixto “Dingdong” Dantes III added, “We can no longer ignore the importance of disaster preparedness and we do not want to risk more lives, that is why we are making this urgent call to provide for youth representation in DRRMCs.”
HBs 5637, 5640, and 5758 are currently pending in the House Committee on National Defense. Senator Bam Aquino has also filed Senate Bill 2702 or the Youth Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act. – Rappler.com
The NYC is a partner of Project Agos, which is operated by Rappler's civic engagement arm MovePH. Project Agos is an online collaborative platform that combines technology, journalism, social media, and crowdsourcing in helping build communities that are resilient to disasters and the impact of climate change.