Philippines

Repeal law on state of calamity declaration, Duterte to Congress

By Azer Parrocha 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged Congress or the next President to repeal a law requiring the assessment of reports on disaster areas before a state of calamity is declared.

Duterte was possibly referring to Republic Act No. (RA) 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

“It behooves upon this Congress, if they want to, for the next President, may I advise, try to repeal the law so that government, there is already the warning, hindi na kailangan ng (no need for) assessment because the warning just too far away for us to prepare,” he said in a prerecorded Talk to the People.

He described waiting for the assessment of reports as a “hindrance” and “legal obstacle” that delayed his declaration of a state of calamity in areas battered by Typhoon Odette and prevented the government from acting immediately.

“There has to be an evaluation and the assessment of damage before you can declare a state of calamity. These are the things, these are the stupid laws passed by Congress. Sila man ang (They make the) final word diyan (there) whether it should be or it should be not,” he added.

Duterte said it would be difficult for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to release an assessment while still providing relief to typhoon victims.

“I cannot rely on [NDRRMC Executive Director] Undersecretary [Ricardo] Jalad kasi kasagsagan lang ‘yan ng ano (because that’s the height of)…and to base an evaluation of assessment of the damage could not be done immediately. That is really silly and that puts a cap on my power…Undersecretary Jalad is busy rescuing and retrieving patay na tao (dead bodies),” he said.

He said during disaster-related emergencies, funds should be available even before a state of calamity is declared.

“Emergency is an emergency and it is not dependent now because the extent of the damage would really be…it could not even be done in one month tapos maghintay ka para magdeclare ng (and then you wait to declare a) state of calamity,” he said.

He said such a law “does not help, but rather it plays a burden” to the government.

Duterte lambasted those criticizing the delay in the government’s response following the devastation wreaked by the typhoon, noting that it was not easy looking for sources of funding.

“The critics, we are always wrong and they are always right…Hindi ito (This is not) martial law na (where) you can just draw the money and you can start buying,” he said.

Typhoon Odette left widespread devastation and damages when it hit parts of Visayas and Mindanao on Dec. 16, killing nearly 389 people and displacing over 1 million families.

Duterte declared a state of calamity in areas battered by Typhoon Odette, particularly Mimaropa (Region 4-B), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Northern Mindanao (Region 10), and Caraga (Region 13) on Dec. 21. (PNA)

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