Disaster risk reduction and management officers (DRRMOs) and experts in the country are backing the passing in Congress of a law that will institutionalize the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to handle impacts of disasters and calamities.

In a position paper obtained by Palawan News, the Association of Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officers of the Philippines, Inc. (ALDRRMOPI) said it is one with President Rodrigo Duterte and policymakers in creating the DDR “for reasons of stability, sustainability, functionality and continuity of essential services” of local DRRMOs.

“Our position has been lobbied to the Office of the President, national government agencies, policymakers and legislators. I have high optimism that the voices from the ground will be heard since the DRRM compass both points the North and the South”, association president Ben Fredrick Rodriguez said.

Republic Act 10121 or the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010” created the DRRMOs in every city, municipality, and province in the country to take the lead in disaster preparedness from mere response, shifting the policy environment to a comprehensive, all-hazard, multisectoral, interagency, and community-based approach.

Rodriguez said their association’s wish is to be DRRM-men in every local government unit (LGU) with standardized training and suitable compensation.

Under the DDR, the LDRRMOs should be entitled to basic salary, allowances, benefits, premiums and incentives pursuant to the Salary Standardization Law of the government.

The position said there should also be an Emergency Medical Services and Protection Provision (EMSPP) with proper personnel protective gears, standard training and protocols, uniform warning signs and symbols, and life-saving assets.

He said addressing hazards and disaster should not be internal revenue allotment (IRA)-dependent if there is already a department with its own budget.

The association is pushing for risk reduction officers and managers to be absorbed by the DDR like the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

“LDRRMOs have the actual experience, knowledge and skills with interpersonal relationship with their colleagues, thus, the program implementation will be faster and easier knowing that they have already developed innovations to address gaps in the present law,” the association said.

It said changes in local leadership should also not affect DRRMO work in the LGUs and should allow swapping of assignment in case of political harassment.

Rodriguez said in the paper that the law cover disaster preparedness down to family level.

He also said that nine years have passed yet LDRRMOs remain marginalized and struggling on several fronts.

“Disaster resilience and sustainability cannot be relied to a volatile, uncertain, complex and state as a matter of public service. VUCA na nga ang kaharap ng mga LDRRMOs araw-araw in protecting the citizens. I don’t think anyone will solve VUCA with VUCA. This may just be a never ending casual loop of problems that I fear might become a mental model. What we want is a productive sequence,” he said.

Rodriguez said that in the event that the DDR is created to assume all responsibilities of LDRRMOs, “there will be a unity of command”.

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