President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call for Congress to pass a law creating a Department of Disaster Management during his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 23.
"We in the Cabinet have approved for immediate endorsement to Congress the passage of a law creating the Department of Disaster Management," said Duterte, reading from his speech.
A new department with more powers than the current National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) would help the country respond to natural and man-made calamities faster, he explained.
"We need a truly empowered department characterized by a unity of command, science-based approach and full-time focus on natural hazards and disasters, and the wherewithal to take charge of the disaster risk reduction, preparedness, and response, with better recovery and faster rehabilitation," said Duterte.
"I fervently appeal to Congress to pass this bill with utmost urgency. Our people's safety requirements cannot wait," he added.
Duterte said the Philippines would do well to learn from past disasters, like Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Land use act
Duterte again also asked lawmakers to pass the proposed National Land Use Act (NLUA), legislation that has been languishing in Congress for two decades.
Like the creation of a disaster management department, the NLUA was one of the priority measures Duterte mentioned in his SONA last year. (READ: 6 priority bills of Duterte in SONA 2017)
"I therefore urge the Senate to urgently pass the National Land Use Act to put in place a national land use policy that will address our competing land requirements for food, housing, businesses, and environmental conservation. We need to do this now," said the President.
He used the environmental woes in Boracay, which he ordered temporarily closed for rehabilitation, as proof that a land use law is critical.
"What has happened to Boracay is just an indication of the long overdue need to rationalize, in a holistic, sustainable manner, the utilization, management, and development of our lands," the President said.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.