Zubiri pushes for Department of Disaster Resilience, Updating of National Hazard Map

Senate Majority Leader and former Bukidnon Congressman Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri has called upon his colleagues to pass two urgently needed disaster management bills—the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019 (SB No. 1139) and the National Hazard Mapping Act of 2019 (SB No. 527).

With the Senate resuming sessions today, January 20, 2020, Zubiri hopes that his fellow Senators can see the importance of the said bills. Zubiri said that he made the said legislative moves in hopes of bettering the disaster management and response strategies of national government.

“The creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience will ensure a more efficient, coordinated, and complete system of disaster management—from risk assessment to emergency response right down to reintegration assistance and rehabilitation,” he said of the bill.

The proposed Department will take on the powers of and functions of the Office of Civil Defense, the Climate Change Office of the Climate Change Commission, the Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Health Emergency Management Bureau of the Department of Health, the Disaster Response and Assistance and Management Bureau of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Program Management Office for Earthquake Resiliency of the Greater Metro Manila Area.

Zubiri pointed out that the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience is necessary in bringing disaster resilience up to the level of the cabinet.

To complement the goals of the Department of Disaster Resilience Act, Zubiri also brought up the necessity for the National Hazard Mapping Act, the bill for which he filed back in 16 July 2019—one of his first few bills for the 18th Congress.

“Having a national hazard map will allow us to identify areas of high risk, helping us pinpoint possibilities of occurrence, magnitude, and location of potential earthquakes, volcanic activity, and other natural hazards,” he explained. The map is also expected to guide in the “construction of public school buildings, hospitals, evacuation centers, and other government institutions in safe zones.”

Though concerned agencies are currently mandated to create hazard maps, they are not mandated to regularly update, and, more importantly, issue these maps out to the public. Zubiri’s bill addresses these insufficiencies in the current law, and ensures that the maps will be useful and easily accessible, in order to aid and prepare the public in facing natural disasters.

“We cannot stop these natural calamities, but we can prepare for them, and with disaster preparedness and resiliency, we can minimize losses in terms of human lives and properties. Let us not wait for the next one to hit before we take action.”

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