Saturday, June 15, 2024

Community-Centric, Science-Based Disaster Response Pushed

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Community-Centric, Science-Based Disaster Response Pushed

6

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Bohol 3rd District Rep. Kristine Alexie Tutor has filed a bill seeking to establish a community-centric, human resource-oriented, science-based emergency and disaster response, resilience, adaptation, and mitigation strategy that “will address gaps in disaster management.”

House Bill (HB) 7505, which Tutor filed on Monday, establishes a Zero Disaster Casualties and Services Continuity Strategy Framework that is community-centric to enable cities and municipalities nationwide to effectively address emergencies and disasters primarily through basic and scalable human resources contingents, funds, logistical resources, and decision-making authority primarily vested upon mayors and barangay councils.

“This bill seeks to further empower communities, local governments, and their local chief executives and legislative bodies to enable them to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies striking their areas,” the chair of the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation said in her explanatory note.

“The main focus of this bill is on the authority of local governments and the human resources needed to adequately respond to disasters and emergencies. Support roles for concerned agencies, enterprises, institutions, and organizations are also provided for,” Tutor said.

She clarified that HB 7505 is “separate from but supportive of other legislative measures” seeking to create the Department on Disaster Resilience and put in place other measures and systems to address disasters and emergencies.

“This is a standalone bill but also a companion measure to the proposed Department on Disaster Resilience, which has emphasis on the national domains,” she said. “The aim is to achieve the primary goals of zero casualty and services continuity. This bill contains decades of lessons learned, including recent lessons, by all levels of government and by the private sector and civil society pertinent to disasters and emergencies.”

Under the measure, every local government shall adopt and continually implement the “Every Household, Every Barangay Emergency Ready Program” that shall be jointly developed and promulgated by the departments of health, social welfare, interior and local government, and science and technology, and the Philippine Red Cross.

The same agencies shall also jointly develop and promulgate a comprehensive First Responders Training and Empowerment Program for implementation in every community and local government with the support of national government field offices and personnel, including state universities and colleges (SUCs).

HB 7075 also establishes Barangay First Responders Teams (BFRT) with each team having the following full-time volunteer corps of personnel: a team leader; an assistant team leader; six first aiders-rescuers; two administrative support staff-rescuers; and four firefighters-rescuers; all of whom shall have completed relevant training on first aid, rescue skills, and physical fitness training.

BFRTs shall work alongside and closely coordinate with personnel of the field units of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and other national agencies’ disaster response teams.

Barangays that are unable to constitute, operate, and sustain their own BFRTs may team up with neighboring barangays to establish Joint BFRTs and share the cost burden and expenses.

Each city and every first-class and second-class municipality shall constitute, operate, and maintain an Emergency and Disaster Management Department (EDMD), which shall take the place of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management offices in these local government units (LGUs).

The EDMD shall have the following core complement of regular plantilla personnel: a department head; a deputy department head; two medical doctors; two nurses; a training coordinator; and four support service personnel. Cities and municipalities may also exercise the option of adding one criminology and hostage negotiation specialist to the EDMD on a consultancy basis.

As HB 7075 places a premium on effective communication and coordination, communities and local governments shall primarily use plain language and Filipino and local languages in their emergency and disaster activities. English, Arabic, and Chinese shall serve as suppletory languages where and whenever necessary.

Even the terms, science jargon. and technical concepts in the science, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and engineering involved in emergencies and disasters “shall be explained in ways these matters can be easily and plainly understood in terms of impact, clear analogies, and examples.”

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and the language, sociology, anthropology, and social work departments of state universities and colleges are tasked to “render relevant technical assistance to communities and local governments” to implement this provision; while the interior department is mandated to “develop, promulgate, and implement a Crisis Communications Manual for all LGUs and community and citizens organizations.” (PNA)