Sen. Imee seeks to uplift PHL disaster response  

Stressing it is time to level up “from disaster response to resiliency,” Senator Imee Marcos moved to upgrade the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), enhancing the powers under the Office of the President for “a more significant budget, rather than the creation of a full-scale department.” 

In filing an earlier Senate Bill 1125 way back in October 2019 in a previous congress, Marcos already pressed for the creation of a National Resilience and Disaster Management Authority in the 18th Congress and refiled it as Senate Bill 186 this July soon after the start of the 19th Congress. 

“Let us move forward from chaotic disaster response to year-round resiliency,” Marcos stressed, as her proposed remedial legislation was taken up during Thursday’s Senate committee hearing presided by her brother, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., with national and local officials from Abra. 

“The required presence of the President, DSWD Secretary, NDRRMC, AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways], and Phivolcs [Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology] in disaster zones simply to coordinate adequate assistance and repairs underlines the urgency of empowering the NDRRMC,” Sen. Marcos said. 

She clarified though that “the NDRRMC can be upgraded from its present status as a council to an authority or administration, instead of being converted into a full-scale department requiring a larger budget just for the salaries of the typical five undersecretaries and countless assistant secretaries.” 

Moreover, she explained that the upgraded agency will exercise command and control over concerned departments, agencies, government-owned and -controlled corporations, and local government units, including the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP), to provide immediate response “in times of disaster, armed conflict, and other man-made hazards.”             

Marcos said the delay in mobilizing resources during times of disaster was due to the current practice of having to go through different government agencies, various chains of command in the PNP and branches of the AFP, “often even requiring the President to personally mobilize frontline departments.” 

For instance, she cited the evolution of the Department of Budget and Management which started out as a mere office, until it was elevated afterwards to a commission during the term of her father, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.  

“Only many years later,” she added, “when its workload necessitated its enlargement and its personnel had received extensive training, did it finally become the department it is today.”