DRRNetPhils Position Paper on Proposed Department of Resilience

Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines

22 February 2023
Republic of the Philippines
House of Representatives
Committee on Government Reorganization
Committee on Disaster Resilience

The Disaster Risk Reduction Network Philippines (DRRNetPhils) is one of the networks of civil society organizations (CSOs) instrumental in the passage of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 or RA 10121. Our network and partners have been monitoring and following the implementation of the law at the national level and in various provinces and local government units. We have conducted series of consultations since 2014 across the Philippines in preparation for the law’s Sunset Review as mandated to be conducted in 2015, five years after the enactment of RA 10121. These consultations have resulted in a paper containing comprehensive recommendations (Annex 1).

DRRNetPhils stands as a watchdog in the legislative processes that seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience. While many of our representatives who filed these bills in the present congress deemed that the creation of this Department is a priority, the DRRNetPhils and its members believe that improving the Philippine disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) systems, aiming for an effective response mechanism, and boosting our climate change initiatives do not necessarily call for a creation of a new department.

DRRNetPhils urges  Congress to convene the Congressional Oversight Committee and jumpstart the formal Sunset Review process as provided for in Section 26 and 27 of RA 10121. We urge both Houses to call for the conduct of a national consultation and assessment on the implementation, impact, and the effectiveness of RA 10121, existing inter-agency coordination mechanisms and measures of the national government, the local government units, CSOs, and the private sector on the four pillars of RA 10121. We are confident that this will aid our legislators to see the appropriate improvements needed, the gaps that needs to be addressed, while retaining and even strengthening the gains, benchmarks, good practices, and victories of our present DRRM law.

Below are few of the critical points we would like to raise for this committee meeting.

Bills seeking to improve RA 10121, both in the Lower House and in the Senate must ensure that we:

  1. Strengthen community-based DRRM system and councils

RA 10121 has been effective in DRR through the functioning councils in different levels. It has institutionalized participatory resilience-building across sectors in the grassroots and in various levels of the government. LGUs work in partnership with barangay councils and various stakeholders through a mandated platform that harnesses the capacities, expertise, technical knowledge, and experience of different community stakeholders, science-based institutions, CSOs, and private sector. Most of the proposed bills filed in the lower house seek to remove the local DRRM councils. This goes against the good practices established by RA 10121 for more than 10 years. While there has to be improvement in structures (See Annex 1, Page 5: Issues, Constraints and Recommendations Focus on Institutional Mechanism; and Page 7: Strengthen the role of the Office of Civil Defense) these have to be made towards strengthening the local DRRM councils and offices by adding provisions on the roles of local committees and local offices subject to their competencies and functions.

We urge the legislators NOT to abolish the different DRRM councils, especially at the local level.

  • Improve the oversight function of OCD, NDRRMC, clarify roles and responsibilities of agencies 

The strength of a DRRM system in a Council set-up is consistent with mainstreaming DRRM. Not one agency has the monopoly of knowledge, resources, and implementation. While it is understood that the “whole of government”, multistakeholder, approach in mainstreaming DRRM may come in contrast with speed, efficiency, and effective service delivery, the balance can be achieved by instilling accountability and oversight.  Concretely, this would mean amending the DRR Law and simply clarifying, transferring the functions currently lumped under the broad NDRRMC to specific terms of references, descriptions of duties, and roles of National Government Agencies (NGAs)- Vice-Chairpersons and relevant national agencies within national and local councils. Along with this, the OCD’s oversight and Technical Secretariat Role must be strengthened by improving its Organizational Structure (Annex 1, Page 7). Pre-work has been done on this as the new National DRRM Plan (2020-2030) has itemized key result areas across DRRM thematic pillars, including involved government agencies and CSOs on these deliverables.

  • Enhance public participation and strengthen vertical, and landscape-wide collaborations

Hazards are not confined within an administrative boundary and are not a job of only one agency, one LGU, or one department. The vertical coordination including national, subnational, municipal, and barangay level must be strengthened and enhanced, as well as landscape-wide or inter-LGU coordination with public participation, including CSOs, private sector, and academic institutions. A great example on the improvement of this can be found in the process of mainstreaming of local risk information in an integrated watershed management plan. The improved coordination must ensure complementation as well as coherence of existing plans that each level of governance and different agencies are mandated to formulate and implement; formulate plans that are relevant and realistic with community-based analysis of needs and existing capacities; coordinate conduct of community risk assessments that are synchronized, relevant, and consulted among relevant government and non-government bodies; and overall ensure efficient use of resources.

  • Uphold dignity and integrate rights-based approach (RBA) and Core Humanitarian Standards

The spirit of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence must be embedded in the proposed improvements of the disaster risk reduction mechanisms, especially in response and management. Inclusion of vulnerable sectors on the basis of universal right to be part of the development and to receive aid or Rights Based Approach (Humanitarian Charter and Sendai Framework for DRR) must be the driving force of the country’s DRR, not only on response but also across thematic pillars, including prevention mitigation, preparedness, and recovery and rehab.

  • Facilitate coherence with other plans; compatible with the Mandanas-Garcia 

The Mandanas-Garcia ruling fully transfers or devolves the delivery of basic services to LGUs. The proposed amendment to RA 10121 must not become an added burden to different levels of governance and agencies but must ensure that it facilitates coherence and harmonization with the local government mandated plans, namely, comprehensive land use plan (CLUP), comprehensive development plan (CDP), and other mandated plans. It must support LGUs in the process of transition towards devolution of basic services, including their local investment plans and budgetary adjustments. Resilience is a development work and therefore must be able to seamlessly be embedded with the development framework and its five sectors: environmental, social, institutional, infrastructure, and economic (Annex 1, Page 9).

  • Formulate clear M&E and accountability of plans and implementation

The Office of Civil Defense has led the formulation of the results-based monitoring and evaluation system (RBMES) for the current NDRRM Plan. DRRNetPhils believe that the mechanisms for quality and accountability standards must be embedded in the whole DRRM system and not just an add-on when required. There is a need to develop an M&E mechanism for DRRM Plans and allocate funds for its mainstreaming and implementation at all levels (Annex 1, Page 9). Operationally, this can be achieved by enhancing the Organizational Structure of the OCD. 

  • Improve community-based evacuation and management of displaced individuals

In 2019, the Cabinet Cluster for DRRM-CCAM has released a data on 86 LGUs in Highly vulnerable provinces that do not have evacuation centers. These LGUs belong to 4th-6th income class and are highly exposed to natural and human-induced hazards. From planning evacuation sites to managing and maintaining these life-saving community assets, the process must include local communities to incorporate their appropriate needs. While an Evacuation Center Bill is filed in both Houses and maybe caught up in legislation process, these LGUs remain highly vulnerable. In the process of amending our DRRM law, it is imperative to take into consideration the urgency to look towards immediately addressing the needs of the poorer communities not just as passive recipients but as active participants of policy improvements.

  • Magna Carta for DRRM workers and Volunteers

The amendment to RA 10121 must also include our frontliners and volunteers by including a comprehensive policy upholding their protection, wellness, and welfare. The DRRM law must uphold the wellness of every member of the communities especially during emergencies and in time of disasters. Comprehensive policy in the context of caring for the carers, mental health and psychosocial support and services among others, must be included in the overall risk reduction targets to ensure the sustainability of our efforts, especially in time of disasters.

  • Ensure integration of DRRM and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and promote the mainstreaming of Ecosystem-based Approaches in DRRM-CCA

There have been gains achieved in promoting the mainstreaming of DRRM and CCA in local, subnational, and national development plans, programs and policies. What we presently need in the amendment of our DRRM law is the integrated management of climate risks and disaster risks, as well as comprehensive integration of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), which leads to a more sustainable risk reduction practices and systems. Operationally, this would mean enabling mandated agencies to harness and allocate resources for community adaptation strategies. 

Respectfully submitted.

Annex 1 can be found here.

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