Lawmakers eye creation of disaster dep’t to fast track gov’t programs

admin   •   March 7, 2018   •   3353

(Left-Right) Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Gringo Honasan

MANILA, Philippines — The oversight committee on the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 has questioned the slow implementation of programs and rehabilitation efforts in affected areas of Zamboanga siege and super typhoon Yolanda last 2013.

According to Sen. Gringo Honasan, until now there are still displaced families in Tacloban City and even in Zamboanga.

Because of the seemingly slow implementation of government programs, Sen. Panfilo Lacson believes it is high time to establish a department that will focus on disaster management.

“Na-experience ko ito noong nasa Yolanda ako, na wala kaming ginawa kundi mag-meeting and very short sa implementation. Kung meron talagang lead agency that will assume all responsibility at least yung implementation mapapabalis,” said Lacson.

(I experienced this during Yolanda wherein we did nothing but conduct meetings and very short implementation. If there could be a lead agency that will assume all responsibility, at least the implementation would be faster.)

Some government line agencies support the said proposal.

“There should be a form of unitary command that will deal with disasters,” Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Asec. Kristoffer James Purisima said.

“Ang major coordinator ngayon ay (the major coordinator is the) Office of Civil Defense. Definitely kailangan silang palakasin (we need to strengthen it). Kailangang dagdagan ng tao (we need to add more people),” said Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) officer-in-charge Usec. Renato Solidum Jr.

To date, a bill creating an agency or department on disaster management is being undertaken by the technical working group in the Lower House.

Lacson said he will push for the passage of its counterpart bill in the Senate.

If this will become law, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and OCD will eventually be abolished. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue






Lacson backs gov’t move to block release of P80-B congressional realignments

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday revealed that at least P80 billion in congressional realignments have been withheld by President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a statement, Lacson said some lawmakers tried to realign at least P80 billion from the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to their districts’ “pet projects” under the P4.1 trillion 2020 national budget.

But instead of exercising his veto power over the line items which could stall the approval of the budget, the lawmaker said Duterte decided to just block the release of the budget by way of a DBM circular now called “for later release,” which has the same effect of a veto.

“I support the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Budget and Management to withhold the release of these congressional realignments,” he said.

“This is one reason why I continue to support the leadership of President Duterte in spite of some disagreements with him over some policy issues: He has time and again displayed the strong political will, even against many self-proclaimed allies in Congress whose loyalty clearly lies where the money lies,” he added.

Lacson advised the president to “always be wary of these so-called allies” who have the propensity to praise him to high heavens and never criticize him but with self-aggrandizement and greed as their only motivation and nothing else.

The House of Representatives has yet to issue a comment on Lacson’s claim. – RRD (with details form Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Lacson hits move to scrap VFA that exposes PH to security threats

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday expressed his belief that the Philippines is now exposed naked to threats after being stripped of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States.

In a statement, Lacson said the country will no doubt survive without the military pact given the resilience of the Filipino people and its soldiers.

“We know how to improvise and we can adapt to crises the way we did many times before,” he said.

However, he pointed out that without the US assistance from now on, the Philippines will continue to be exposed to terrorists and other threats to national security.

“[I]n the meantime, we remain exposed to terrorist threats, both domestic and foreign, not to mention the continuing security threat in the West Philippine Sea posed by China, and even the need for timely humanitarian response and assistance that the US is capable of deploying during disasters, natural or man-made,” he said.

He also said that the abrogation of the country’s military pact also affects the maintenance and repairs of military hardware, mostly air assets provided by the US under the AFP modernization program.

The VFA between Washington and Manila came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday shrugged off the Philippines’ scrapping of the VFA, saying it would “save a lot of money.”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said it is now eyeing to sign similar defense treaties and increase engagement for joint exercises with other countries as a replacement for the terminated agreement with the US.

But Lacson pointed out that establishing a similar military pact would take a long time.

“Exploring other options like inking similar defense treaties with other nations as posited by the AFP Chief of Staff is fine but the reality is, it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

“It will take a series of back-and-forth negotiations in pursuit of the concerned parties’ self and national interests before going through lengthy deliberations for ratification by the Senate,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the termination of the VFA following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa. Duterte has also repeatedly criticized the US for its ‘disrespectful’ actions including meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

“While admittedly, the VFA is not perfect for the Philippines as far as equitability is concerned, the timing and reasons for its abrogation are way off the mark,” Lacson said.

“The thing is, it is not the smartest move of the President to expose ourselves naked first before looking for other options for cover,” he added.

Lacson: Invest big in research and development

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 3, 2020

Human genetic material is stored at a laboratory in Munich May 23, 2011. REUTERS/MICHAEL DALDER

Senator Panfilo Lacson is pushing for bigger investments in research and development to deal with disaster preparedness better.

Lacson also lamented that the Research and Development in the national budget only accounts for only a minuscule 0.4%

The senator noted that from the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, the government initially proposed a mere P16.18 billion for Research and Development which is 0.39% of the entire budget.

From 2016 to 2019, it accounted for only between 0.34 and 0.46% of the entire national budget.

“Science entails research. Science can greatly help especially during disasters. Yet, why do we appropriate only 0.4 percent on the average for R & D?” he said.

Lacson said science and technology can have a great impact on efforts to deal with disasters – from tracking cyclones and mapping high-risk areas to developing better ready-to-eat meals as well as methods to ensure the health and hygiene of evacuees.

“Even if we bump up the percentage to 1 or 2 percent of the national budget, I’m sure this will mean a lot to agencies such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA),” he added. —AAC


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