Group asks Go to help push creation of disaster resilience body

LEGAZPI CITY — Kusog Bikolandia has asked Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, an honorary member of the regional party, to seriously look into its proposal to create a super body on disaster resilience.

The group underscored the need for Go, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, to persuade President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an Executive Order creating the National Disaster and Reconstruction Management Authority which will be solely responsible for overseeing the disaster risk reduction operations in the country to include reconstruction and rehabilitation works, instead of a separate department.

Kusog Bicolandia chairman emeritus Noel de Luna, in an interview on Thursday, said creating a new department to handle disaster resilience would be counter-productive as different government agencies have their respective mandates in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction responsibilities.

He said an agency should be tasked to develop disaster mitigation and rehabilitation plans and oversee its implementation for each provincial disaster requirements across the country.

“A super body is better than a new line department,” de Luna said in a statement.

He explained the need for such after lawmakers issued calls for a rehabilitation plan to address the needs of the Taal Volcano eruption victims.

Bicolanos have long suffered from disastrous typhoons from Sisang in 1987 to Reming in 2006 which were accompanied by storm surges that devastated coastal areas.

De Luna also cited the recent eruptions of Mayon Volcano in Albay and Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon province.

“One must remember rehabilitation work will only restore the damaged infrastructure and would not add anything to the community,” he said. It is therefore imperative for the super body to carefully look into the needs of vulnerable communities and plan, he added.

De Luna cited the Marawi Rehabilitation Plan which received a huge budget. Failure to implement some of its programs resulted in the return of funds to the National Treasury, he said, adding that there was an insufficient administrative mechanism.

As such, transparency has taken the backseat because nobody can easily see the responsible parties in the rehabilitation program, de Luna said.

“It is, for this reason, we are requesting Senator Go to intervene in the creation of a super body to address everything from conception to implementation of local and national programs for each calamity where quick response is guaranteed along with well-funded and closely supervised rehabilitation programs,” he said.

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