Gov’t eyes ‘stronger’ disaster management agency to replace NDRRMC

Voltaire Tupaz
Gov’t eyes ‘stronger’ disaster management agency to replace NDRRMC
If Congress approves, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) will be replaced by an independent agency called the Civil Defense Authority (CDA)

MANILA, Philippines – Learning from the problems encountered during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and other big disasters, the government is poised to establish a new disaster management agency.

During its second meeting on Thursday, January 12, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under the Duterte administration tackled the proposal to create a new department to be named the Civil Defense Authority (CDA).

The CDA will still be in charge of protecting the population from human-made and natural calamities, but it will now be an independent agency with both policy and implementing powers.

“I would like to elevate the OCD to department level to give them teeth to implement policies to mitigate disasters, prepare, and mitigate (human-induced) calamities and natural calamities like earthquake, tsunami, typhoon,” Defense Secretary and NDRRMC Chairman Delfin Lorenzana told media in a mix of English and Filipino after the council meeting.

New structure

The CDA is envisioned to be responsible for coordinating, monitoring, overseeing, and implementing disaster risk reduction and management efforts. It will be headed by a director-general with cabinet-level rank and assisted by deputy directors-general, assistant directors-general, and bureau directors.

It’s a “much stronger agency than the current one which is the OCD (Office of Civil Defense),” NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad told Rappler.

“Disaster response will still be an inter-agency effort, but it will be orchestrated by the CDA,” Jalad noted..

The proposed agency will have the following new components:

1) The Civil Defense Council (CDC) that will take the place of the NDRRMC

The CDC shall be headed by the President as Chair and assisted by the CDA Director-General as Vice-Chair and Executive Director. The existing membership of the NDRRMC will be expanded to include the following officials:

  • Secretary, Department of Transportation (DOTr)
  • Secretary, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)
  • National Security Adviser
  • Director-General, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA)
  • Insurance Commissioner, Insurance Commission (IC)
  • Chair, National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP)
  • President, National Organization of Local Civil Defense Officers (NOLCDO) 

2) The CDA that shall serve as the secretariat and implementing agency of the CDC

3) Local CDCs that will now be responsible for preparing and implementing rehabilitation and recovery plans 

Learning from Yolanda

The proposed new structure of the country’s disaster management agency seeks to correct the bureaucratic lapses committed under the current system, particularly during the massive disasters that hit the country. (READ: Malacañang’s Yolanda aid dilemma: Speed or procedure?)

“The occurrence of Typhoon Yolanda and other large-scale disasters revealed that problems encountered in coordinating and implementing large-scale disaster risk reduction and management efforts are rooted primarily in the nature of our governance framework for disaster risk reduction and management,” the NDRRMC said in a resolution.

After the Yolanda disaster, experts and critics have called on the government to reform its system in dealing with disasters.

Then Ateneo School of Government dean Tony La Viña noted the government doesn’t have “a single agency that thinks for us and plans for us pre-, during, and post-disaster.” (READ: Urgently needed, a new disaster agency)

Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines (DRRNetPhils) welcomed the proposal but noted that “they still need further clarification on the civil defense framework as it relates to the current Philippine DRRM framework.”

“DRRNetPhils through our campaign Barangay 911 has been advocating for the creation of a National DRRM Authority, and this current proposal is a step towards that,” Kamille Ruiz, the group’s communications officer, said.

“As one of the CSO representatives to the NDRRMC, we will continue to work with the council to further improve the proposal,” she added.

Civil defense or DRR?

Addressing the concerns raised by representatives of civil society in the council, Jalad said that the proposed CDA will not undermine the disaster risk reduction framework set out in the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010 or RA 10121.

“What is civil defense? It’s the protection of the people from threats which are not armed in nature…Civil defense is a higher concern. It includes disaster risk reduction,” Jalad said. 

If approved by members of the council in the next two weeks, an amendatory bill to RA 10121 will be endorsed to Malacañang for certification as a priority legislative measure of the administration.

After 5 years of implementation, RA 10121 was recently evaluated by the congressional oversight committee.

Signed on May 27, 2010, the law aimed to develop a framework and roll out resources to enable the national government, local government units, and other stakeholders to build communities that can survive disasters. –

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