Caritas PH to gov’t: Fast-track creation of new disaster response department

Caritas PH to gov’t: Fast-track creation of new disaster response department

Residents walk through floodwaters in Barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City, August 11, 2018. PHOTO FROM SAN ISIDRO LABRADOR PARISH

By CBCP News

August 13, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The country’s social action centers has called on the government to fast-track the creation a new disaster management department.

In an appeal made after the 39th National Social Action General Assembly, they stressed the need for better disaster response in the light of massive flooding that inundated Metro Manila and surrounding provinces.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, said it is imperative and urgent for the government to establish an effective disaster response agency.

“It is very urgent that we have a single government agency in-charge of disaster preparedness, mitigation and response to be able to provide consistent training, craft better policies and act on pressing disaster risk reduction (DRR) concerns,” he said.

During the assembly in Puerto Princesa City last week, at least 61 diocesan social action centers agreed to strengthen DRR organizational capacities to complement the efforts and available resources of the government and other humanitarian organizations.

Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, Diocesan Social Action Director of Legazpi, said that it is imperative for the social action centers to be able respond appropriately and fast during disasters.

“The on-going DRR institutional capacity building initiatives we are having have been very helpful in ensuring we are levelling up our preparedness and response capacities, as manifested during the previous disasters like Marawi crisis and Mayon eruption,” Arjona said.

Gariguez also said that the recent flooding in Metro Manila is also asking concerned agencies to be more conscious in finding innovative solutions to solid waste management in urban settings.

“This also puts us in urgent position to campaign with the government and our communities for proper law enforcement, sustained cooperation and better appreciation of continuing DRR and climate change initiatives,” he added.

The priest said that the social action centers have already carved their way to a more responsive and integrated DRR programming as showcased in the various emergency and development programs Caritas and the dioceses have been implementing.

“We just need to make these efforts more sustainable and spread out across the country,” said Gariguez.

In his third State of the Nation Address last July 23, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call for Congress to pass into a law creating a Department of Disaster Management.

Once passed by Congress, the enhanced department will abolish the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).