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CEBU, Philippines – The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) should be put under the Office of the President (OP) to improve response time by national agencies during disasters, Senator Imee Marcos said in a media forum on Tuesday, October 18.
The senator spoke as her son, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Manotoc, gave a rundown of the damage suffered by the Marcos family’s home province at the tailend of Typhoon Neneng (Nesat), which left the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Sunday night, October 16.
As of midday Tuesday, Manotoc said the main roads of Barangays Pancian and Balaoi, both in Pagudpud town, remained closed. The Tamdagan Bridge in Vintar town and the Masi Bridge also remained closed due to damaged approaches.
The governor said heavy rain caused floods that hit more than 1,700 houses, affecting 4,282 families in 111 barangays across the province.
He reported the partial cost of damage at P177.6 million ($3.01 million), with the bulk of this, P95 million ($1.61 million), suffered by infrastructure. Damage to crops and fisheries was at P80 million ($1.36 million), while damage to livestock and poultry was at P2.26 million ($38,369.72).
‘Circuitous, long-winded’ system
The senator responded to Manotoc’s remarks from a press conference on Monday, October 17, where he cited the need for better access to resources like air assets to speed up rescue and survey operations.
The Ilocos Norte governor’s statement echoed sentiments raised by Abra officials during the aftermath of the July 2022 earthquake.
“We realized in Abra that the system of the NDRRMC is circuitous and long-winded,” Marcos acknowledged.
She explained that in order for a request for aerial support to be approved, it needed to come first from the local government, get validated by the concerned Department of Social Welfare and Development or Department of Public Works and Highways regional offices, and finally, get sent to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for coordination.
“I have been recommending from the very beginning that the NDRRMC should be enhanced and upgraded, put directly under the Office of the President para isang utos na lamang (so that it’s just one directive),” Marcos added.
The senator also hoped that the NDRRMC wouldn’t just operate as a coordinating body but also as an “implementing arm” during a state of disaster.
The NDRRMC, established through the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, was designed to respond to natural calamities and increase resiliency in the Philippines.
“Ang hirap kasi ‘pag sinasabi na ‘coordinate,’ alam mo na walang mangyayari, nagpabagal nang pabagal (It’s challenging when we say just ‘coordinate,’ because we know that nothing happens, it gets slower and slower),” Marcos pointed out.
In Abra, she mentioned her bill proposing a new body that would empower NDRRMC and model this after the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he agreed that the NDRRMC should be strengthened and modeled after FEMA, but he has not addressed his older sister’s call to place it under the OP. – Rappler.com