Groups seek corrupt-free disaster management law

by Bencyrus G. Ellorin, Contributor

Earthquake in Japan

FACED by the horrific scenes in Japan after magnitude 9 earthquake and 10-meter tsunami hit it on March 11, 2011, Filipinos are haunted by questions on its readiness to absorb catastrophe’s of that magnitude.

But even as the law which provides the framework for disaster risk reduction and management gets to see the light of day, some lawmakers in Congress want to zap the essence of RA 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Act of 2010.

Ilo-ilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas and Negros Oriental (2nd district) Rep. George P. Arnaiz, have filed in the 15th Congress House Bill 3813 which amends Sec. 21 of RA 10121.

Civil society organizations advocating DRRM are mobilizing against the move to amend the law ahead of regional consultations on the measure starting this month. Northern Mindanao consultation is slated on March 23, 2011 in Cagayan de Oro and March 24 for Caraga in Butuan City.

Office of Civil Defense 10 Dir. Carmelito Lupo encouraged DRRM stakeholders to participate in the consultations which shall also get inputs for the National DRRM Framework Plan.

Sec. 21 of the DRRM Law has mandated that the Local DRRM Fund (LDRRMF), formerly known as Calamity Fund shall be appropriated to the effect that 30 percent shall be set aside for disaster quick response and 70 percent as development fund to finance projects for prevention, mitigation and community readiness to disaster, like early warning systems, disaster resilient livelihood, health and evacuation systems.

The same section also provide that “Unexpended LDRRMF shall accrue to a special trust fund solely for the purpose of supporting disaster risk reduction and management activities of the LDRRMCs within the next five (5) years. Any such amount still not fully utilized after five (5) years shall revert back to the general fund and will be available for other local services to be identified by the local sanggunian.”

The DRRMnet, a coalition of DRRM advocates nationwide slam HB 3813 for being driven by self-interest and abetting corruption.

In the pre DRRM Act period, the unexpended calamity fund can be reverted back to the general fund and can be used as gifts to LGU employees.

“There is a need for LGUs to be educated on this very significant provision that its an investment and cost efficient wise to prevent a disaster event to happen. Again, there is corruption in disasters and the old 5% calamity fund prior to RA 10121 is subjected to a lot of corruption,” said Mark Fernandez, DRRM specialist of the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction.

“We need to ensure that a funding from the LGU has to be allocated for both DRR and Climate Change Adaptation initiatives which includes all the processes from risk assessment and analysis, action planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation,” he added.

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