How has RA 101211 been implemented?
With the crafting of a national budget consistent with present priorities over and done with, our lawmakers ought to determine, in the exercise of oversight, how the executive branch (under two administrations) has implemented a law they passed: Republic Act No. 101211, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
Our country has the dubious distinction of being ranked 3rd on the World Risk Index of 2012, surpassed only by Vanuatu and Tonga. In the period 1900-2012, the top 10 natural disasters that came our way were in the form of storms and floods. On Sept. 24, 2011, alone, 3,030,846 people were affected by a storm. Data from the Manila Observatory, a most reliable source of weather information since the days of Padre Faura, name the Bicol region, the Marinduque-Mindoro area, and the Visayan midsection as the most frequently used corridors of supertyphoons.
Understandably, RA 101211’s declaration of policy, consisting of 16 paragraphs recited in Section 2, is among the longest stated by Congress. The law begins by situating the need to be protected from disasters as among the people’s core entitlements under the Constitution. It then affirms the country’s communality with the community of nations, recognizing the essentially cross-border impact of the rapidly changing weather patterns. It proceeds to focus on capability-building at the national and local levels, allocating specific responsibilities. Last, but not least, it mandates the assistance and caring to be given to the disasters’ unwilling victims. It is all there in the statute, waiting to be transported into real life.
The law’s marching orders are addressed to the public offices and institutions whose charters relate, or somehow intersect with, the handling of disasters. A body called National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is created under Section 5, putting under the same canopy the key people in the relevant departments, from those in the military to those in social services, as well as participants from significant private-sector groups, all with the mission to share in the function of promoting the common good. These are the people conscripted to staff the soup kitchen, and we share the nation’s aspiration that they do come up with nutritious good food, and not bad noodles in salt-laden broth.
A stellar feature of RA 101211 is the three-pronged employment of well-accepted contemporary management approaches: inclusive and participatory; driven by modern, even if not in all cases state-of-the-art, science and technology; and attended by postdisaster evaluation and assessment.
Those at the grassroots are designated as key players. Thus, Section 12 establishes in every province, city, municipality, and barangay a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee, which is responsible for setting the direction, development, implementation and coordination of disaster risk management programs in its area of jurisdiction.
The committee has the duty to design, program, and coordinate disaster risk reduction and management activities consistent with the National Council’s standards and guidelines. It should facilitate and support risk assessments and contingency planning activities at the local level. It is required to consolidate local disaster risk information, which includes natural hazards, vulnerabilities, and climate change risks, and maintain a local risk map.
Educating the people is an important mission. The committee must organize and conduct training, orientation, and knowledge management activities on disaster risk reduction and management at its level. Using available tools and equipment, it must operate a multihazard early-warning system linked to disaster risk reduction to provide accurate and timely advice to national or local emergency response organizations and to the general public, through the mass media, particularly radio, landline communications, and technologies for communication in rural communities. It is required to formulate and implement a comprehensive and integrated program in accordance with the national, regional and provincial framework, and policies on disaster risk reduction in close coordination with the local development councils.
Systematic methods of preparedness are demanded of the committee. It ought to prepare and submit to the local Sanggunian through its higher-ups its annual plan and budget, the proposed programming of the funds and other dedicated disaster risk reduction and management resources, and other regular funding sources and budget support.
The committee’s work embraces both contemporary disaster monitoring and mobilization of instrumentalities and entities within its spheres of ability, as well as private groups and organized volunteers, so as to utilize facilities and resources for the protection and preservation of life and properties during emergencies in accordance with policies and procedures.
Vigilance is a must. The committee needs to identify, assess and manage the hazards, vulnerabilities and risks that may occur in its locality. It ought to disseminate information and raise public awareness about those hazards, vulnerabilities and risks, their nature, effects, early-warning signs, and set up cost-effective risk reduction measures/strategies.
Collection of information is necessary. It needs to maintain a database of human resources, equipment, directories, and location of critical infrastructures and their capacities, such as hospitals and evacuation centers.
So it seems a complete program has been laid out by Congress. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Just implement it.
Ricardo J. Romulo is a senior partner of Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.