June 17, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Panel seeks better precautions vs disasters

THE House Committee on Disaster Resilience, presided by vice chairperson Zia Alonto Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur), met again on Tuesday to continue discussions on how to plug the gaps in government laws and regulations that resulted in 98 people dead in the aftermath of the Masara landslide last February.

Adiong saw the Masara incident as an “opportunity to work together in identifying policy gaps and recommending solutions that mitigate the effects of such incidents and prevent them happening or the repeat of the same incidents which caused loss of lives.”

ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo, who filed House Resolution (HR) 1586 calling for a Congressional inquiry into the Masara landslide, agreed, stating that he filed the resolution to prevent the recurrence of the disaster, “so that in the future this won’t happen again. We cannot and must not take this for granted.”

Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Reps. France Castro (ACT Teachers) and Raoul Danniel (Kabataan) also moved for the conduct of an investigation of the Masara incident, embodied in HR 1587.

Rep. Paul Daza asked which national agency that should take the lead to work with the LGUs in terms of relocation for people residing in areas identified as prone to landslides, storm surges or floods.  

OCD Regional Director Ednar Dayanghirang replied that under Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act, the OCD is to lead the continuous development of strategic and systematic approaches to reduce vulnerabilities and risks to hazards and manage the consequences of disasters.

Tulfo identified the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) as another agency that “plays a crucial role in overseeing mining activities, geological hazard assessments, and land use planning to ensure the safety and welfare of communities.”

Daza named the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) as another agency that may be tapped, emphasizing the immediate need for solutions. 

“We don’t have to (develop a plan for) the whole country, but we have to start somewhere, so something like (the Masara incident) doesn’t happen again,” Daza told the panel. 

Rep. Khalid Dimaporo stressed the role of government in preventing disasters. 

“(Disaster preparedness) should start with us the government. So, if you have identified geo-hazard sites areas na may mga landslide, tapos the LGU (local government unit) is issuing building permits, problema yan,” Dimaporo warned. 

He seconded Daza’s request for a list of barangays classified as high risk in geo-hazard maps. He also asked the DILG for a list of building permits that has been issued on geo-hazard sites.  

Lawyer Roberto Mauro Miguel Palma Gil, DHSUD Region XI director, said his agency assists LGUs in identifying areas suitable for human settlement. The problem according to Gil, is that beneficiaries of government housing would sell or lease the land they were given and go back to the hazardous area.  

Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga (2nd District, Davao de Oro) pointed out the need for concerned agencies to implement uniform policies, “There is no uniformity in the execution of our laws of the land, so kinakailangan talaga natin how are we going to improve existing laws,” Gonzaga said.