BAGUIO CITY October 12 – The creation of an independent emergency and disaster response body in the bureaucracy would guarantee efficient and effective disaster response in the countryside to attend to the short- medium and long-term requirements of calamity victims and disaster stricken communities, Leyte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said here Saturday.
Romualdez, who was the guest of honor and speaker during the celebration of the 24th anniversary of the Local Government Code and Barangay Day in the Summer Capital, said that he authored a bill creating a permanent disaster body that would be empowered to plan, decide and implement appropriate relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations without the involvement of too much political decision-making to allow the immediate recovery of the calamity-stricken areas.
“We want to have our own version of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) of the United States that independently decide on the things that must be done in disaster-stricken areas without the need for presidential intervention which would guarantee faster relief- recovery and rehabilitation efforts, especially the affected areas in the countryside,” Romualdez stressed.
The Leyte lawmaker underscored the powers of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is limited to coordination which should not be the case because disaster or emergency response requires the immediate disbursement of funds for relief, recovery operations in order to put in place the basic services of communities that were ravaged by man-made or natural calamities.
According to him, the budget of the new emergency and disaster agency must already be put in place in the general appropriations act and should be at its disposal to prevent too much presidential interventions in the disbursement of relief, recovery and rehabilitation funds that would avoid the involvement of political affiliations in deciding whether or not to provide calamity-stricken communities with development funds.
Romualdez emphasized politics should be already out of the picture in difficult situations like calamities because what should prevail is the greater welfare of the greater majority of the populace whose basic needs must be given attention after their place and their personal belongings were ravaged by calamities.
In the case of the Yolanda-stricken areas, Romualdez claimed the government virtually failed to perform well in the relief- recovery and rehabilitation operations because it made life more difficult to the people by failing to implement the identified priority projects which would have supposed to have started the robust development and the recovery of the disaster-stricken areas from the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda.
He pointed out if not for concerned non-government organizations and their private partners, Tacloban City and other Yolanda-stricken areas were not able to be able to experience a better pace of development compared to the first months of the disaster where government support was not really felt by the people, especially in the remote communities of Region 8.