By John Noel E. Herrera
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said he agrees with plans of the current administration to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).
“That’s a good idea. It is because of climate change, the disaster response also evolved into something as important as the natural resources, something as important as the transportation, and I agree with that,” Defensor said in his weekly press conference on Friday.
Defensor was also quick to connect the planned creation of the department to the Executive Order No. 173 or the Provincial Civil Defense Service (ProCid Serv) of the Iloilo Provincial Government that established the Provincial Civil Defense Operations Center (ProCid OpCen) and the Provincial Civil Defense Force (ProCid Force) in the province.
“That is why we have the Provincial Civil Defense Force. That is really the idea why we have Executive Order No. 173 diri sa probinsya kay ang disaster hindi na lang bagyo kag linog. May mga unay kita nga mga disaster nga gina atubang nga dapat dako nga opisina kag damo gid nga resources ang itaya naton sa iya. I agree with that (creation of DDR) kasi we already have (similar) to this eh (EO No. 173).
(That is why we have the Provincial Civil Defense Force. That is really the idea why we have Executive Order No. 173 in the province because the disasters that we are facing now are not just the likes of typhoons and earthquakes. We are also facing bigger disasters that need bigger offices and more resources to allot for it. I agree with the creation of DDR because we already have a similar program about it which is the EO No. 173.)
EO 173 of Iloilo province intensifies the effort in protection of the welfare of the citizens in times of crisis and emergency situations, such as natural disasters, social disorder, economic crisis, political unrest and lawless violence.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had said in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) that there are many areas in the country that are prone to natural disasters and a separate agency must be created to respond to these natural disasters and calamities.
Despite the plan to conduct a rightsizing in all government agencies, Marcos still urged the Congress to pass a law for the creation of DDR.
Some senators approved the plan, like Senator Alan Peter Cayetano who said that he will push for the law to be certified as urgent for its quick passage.
Meanwhile, Defensor signed two executive orders (EO) that will strengthen the climate change and disaster response of the province.
With the onset of the rainy season, the implementation of EO No. 334 or Bantay Ulan Project in Iloilo province will enhance the Early Warning System (EWS) for hydro-meteorological hazards affecting the province.
Bantay Ulan Rain Gauge will be installed in barangays identified by the provincial government based on its Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Plan from 2020 to 2022. The gauges can immediately measure water levels during heavy rains, floods, or typhoons.
The operation of the Bantay Ulan Rain Gauge will be undertaken by the barangay pursuant to the functions of the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (BDRRMC).
The data should be communicated to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) which will relay it to the Provincial Civil Defense Operation Center (ProCid OpCen).
Meanwhile, the Iloilo Provincial Government will also implement a small-scale, socialized, and localized housing project in response to climate change and relocation of residents exposed to natural hazards through EO No. 333 or the Purok Resilience Program.
Under the program, the provincial government will establish the Purok Resilience in a resettlement area in different barangays of the towns or city that are also accessible to the livelihood of the beneficiaries that are also identified based on the PDRRMP 2020-2022.
The project will also be implemented on land identified pursuant to the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, and owned by the province or donated and made available by convergent partners for the program.
The EO also stated that the program shall be implemented through the National Housing Program (NHP) of the government under Republic Act 7279.
The beneficiaries are the underprivileged, with priority to those who shall be relocated from identified hazard and danger zones.
In a press conference on Friday, July 29, 2022, Gov. Defensor Jr. also noted that these two executive orders can be institutionalized through an ordinance in the province.