PH solons call for disaster risk reduction laws

March 15, 2015

MANILA — Philippine lawmakers called on members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to create in their countries the policy environment for effective disaster risk reduction (DRR) and enact laws that provide incentives to the private sector to build disaster resilient houses and communities.

Senator Loren Legarda and Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, who are attending the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction being held in Japan from March 13 to 18, issued the call in their respective remarks at the IPU Parliamentary Meeting for Governance and Legislation for Disaster Risk Reduction held on March 13.

Legarda appealed to her fellow lawmakers, who have the mandate to introduce change, to craft “an effective and implementable DRR policy that is inclusive, resilient, sustainable and affordable for all concerned.”

She also cited four important targets that lawmakers should consider in drafting DDR legislation, which includes understanding and defining the risk and hazard; ensuring that DDR laws work and are well implemented; investing in resilience and ensuring that the DDR policy is part of the national budget; and institutionalizing international cooperation on DDR legislation.

During the open forum, Legarda emphasized that lawmakers must rely on a scientific agency in formulating a DDR system, which will help in formulating legislation.

She also explained the importance of identifying the agency that is accountable for DDR, especially during recovery and rehabilitation phase.

The senator admitted that the Philippine DRR laws are far from perfect and thus she will propose amendments to include the Multi Hazard Early Warning System in order to make the DRR system more comprehensive.

Legarda said that policy should regularize and institutionalize DRR and parliamentarians should allocate percentage of the national budget for DRR programs.

Rodriquez, for his part, commented that “all politics is local and disaster risk reduction is local because the first people to be hit in a disaster are those in the localities.”

In remarks as a panel member, he suggested to the parliamentarians that the private sector, especially construction firms, should be given incentives to build houses and communities that are resilient to natural disasters.

Under the concept of “build-back-better,” Rodriquez said builders of houses and communities should be given tax holidays for six years and tax exemption for the importation of construction equipment as incentives to build typhoon resilient houses.

“The government cannot fund these projects alone and thus the private sector should be given the right encouragement to build houses and communities that are designed to protect the residents from natural calamities,” Rodriquez added.

He also shared his views on DRR stating that, “While we are quite prepared already in the aspect of recovery, we are still behind in mitigation. Our recent experience with typhoon Haiyan will show, most of our local officials lack the training to reduce risks and conduct recovery and rehabilitation efforts. More importantly, they lack the know-how on how to mitigate disaster risks and how to address issues on the CCA and DRR.”

Rodriguez also mentioned that he has filed a resolution urging the National Economic and Development Authority to include disaster resilient development through DRR in the 10-year National Development Plan, as well as a resolution to include in the Philippine Investments Priority Plan the investments by the private sector for disaster resilient development through DRR projects.

In the Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 provides for the development of policies and plans and the implementation of actions and measures pertaining to all aspects of disaster risk reduction and management, including good governance, risk assessment and early warning, knowledge building and awareness raising, reducing underlying risk factors, and preparedness for effective response and early recovery.

The NDRR Management Act of 2010 created the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, tasked to create a framework that will provide for a comprehensive, multi-sectoral, inter-agency and community-based approach to disaster risk reduction and management, Legarda added.