Pia seeks unified agency to respond to disasters

Building on the country’s progress to respond to both natural and human-made calamities, Senator Pia S. Cayetano filed a bill seeking to merge the functions of different agencies involved in disaster risk reduction and management to form the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR).

She said that while the current law (Philippine Disaster Reduction and Management Act or RA 10121) coordinated the efforts of various agencies on disaster risk reduction, there remains a need to establish a single, accountable agency in charge of responding to disasters. 

Cayetano’s proposed “Department of Disaster Resilience Act” mandates a sole government department to take over the policy-making, coordination, and monitoring functions of the present ad hoc inter-agency council on disaster risk reduction and management. 

In stressing the need for a separate agency for disaster resilience, Cayetano cited that the Word Risk Index ranks the Philippines third among nations with the highest risk from disasters, next to Vanuatu and Tonga.

“Owing to our geographical and natural features, the Philippines is inherently prone to disasters, both natural and human-made. And more so in the era of climate change, where extreme weather conditions have become the new normal and reality for many Filipinos,” Cayetano pointed out. 

The bill also aims to implement the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 in addressing disaster risks and climate change. 

The proposed DDR will be equipped with bureaus specifically tasked to deal with disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, and humanitarian and disaster responses.

The applicable powers, funds and appropriations of existing government agencies from different departments will then be transferred to the DDR. 

These agencies include the Office of Civil Defense (DND), Climate Change Office, Geo-Hazard Assessment and Engineering Geology Section of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau (DENR), Health and Emergency Bureau (DOH), Disaster Response Assistance and Management Bureau (DSWD), and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Meanwhile, PAGASA and PHIVOLCS will be attached agencies of the DDR. 

Cayetano is the author of the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 10821), which ensures attention and assistance to children before, during, and after disasters. She also introduced gender provisions in RA 10121, including the promotion of breastfeeding, and the establishment of safe spaces for mothers and children in evacuation centers. #

The Philippines is the third country most vulnerable to disasters according to the World Risk Index report.
Extreme weather conditions and more frequent disasters caused by climate change require a unified and comprehensive response from the government.
In this file photo, then Deputy Speaker interacts with young evacuees at a disaster relief center in Navotas City. Joining her is Mayor John Rey Tiangco. (November, 2018)

Second batch of bills filed to advance PH development goals

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Monday (July 8) filed ten more bills in the Senate to support the Duterte administration’s efforts in attaining the country’s sustainable development goals. 

The returning senator said her second batch of bills reinforces her vision of helping the country meet its targets in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In pursuit of Goal 3 of the SDGs, which is to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all, Cayetano is pushing for programs to provide better healthcare services and facilities to Filipinos, particularly on reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health. 

These include three bills seeking to provide one midwife in every barangay; establish specialty centers in government hospitals and medical centers; and the promotion of Folic Acid food fortification and supplementation.

Furthermore, the senator filed measures aimed at upholding the country’s commitment to Goal 13 of the SDGs, which is to implement policies towards climate change mitigation.

Among these is the bill establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience, which will become the country’s primary agency in charge of responding to disasters and mitigating its impacts.

Other pro-environmental bills filed by Cayetano include the proposed ‘Sustainable Forest Management Act,’ which provides for the conservation of the country’s forest lands and resources; and the ‘Bicycle Act of 2019,’ which proposes to recognize bicycles as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation.

Apart from these, Cayetano is pushing for the ‘Tulong Puhunan’ bill to institutionalize nationwide microfinance programs for the development of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs). This is in line with Goal 8 of the SDGs – to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. The measure is also inspired by the success of the Presyo Trabaho Kita (PTK) program, a brainchild of the senator’s brother, Taguig Representative Alan Cayetano, which helps provide seed capital to people’s organizations across different sectors nationwide. 

“Let this be a testament of our continued commitment to achieve the collective aspirations of Filipinos, as embodied in the government’s ‘Ambisyon Natin 2040’ vision, where every family enjoys ‘Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay,’” the senator stressed.

Cayetano likewise filed pro-youth and -family measures during the second week, including the Magna Carta of Student-Athletes; Increasing the Maximum Value of the Family Home; as well as an Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.

“My objective is to keep championing the rights and welfare of every member of the family. This has been my fight ever since. Hopefully, with the help of our colleagues in Congress, our legislative action plans can help us attain our shared vision for a better country,” the senator concluded. #

Stay vigilant following Luzon, Visayas quakes

House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano is urging all Filipino families to remain vigilant amid the strong earthquakes that hit several parts of the country this week.

Following the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that hit parts of Luzon on Monday, another magnitude 6.3 earthquake rattled the Visayas region on Tuesday.
Amid fears of aftershocks, Cayetano reminded the public to always remain calm and prepared whenever calamities strike.

“Ang reminder ko sa karamihan, baka hindi kayo sa lindol masaktan kung hindi sa after-effect, which are panic and stampede,” she noted.

“That’s why we have to be very careful and calm. More importantly, let’s prepare ourselves for calamities. There’s so much information out there that we can access through technology,” she added.

The congresswoman further stressed the need to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable sectors, including children, pregnant women, the sick, the elderly, and the differently abled, during times of disasters.

Cayetano said local government units (LGUs) should integrate these sectors’ welfare in their disaster risk reduction and management programs. This way, incidents of maternal and infant sickness, deaths, as well as cases of rape, trafficking, and prostitution could be prevented.

Cayetano said Taguig City has set a good example with its timely disaster response efforts during the earthquake on Monday. 

“Ang maganda sa Taguig, agad agad may first responders na nasa labas. Meron na kaagad kaming command post na nakatayo within a matter of minutes. Sana ay lahat ng LGUs ay ganito rin kabilis ang pagresponde,” she stressed.

The Taguig representative, who is running for re-election in the upcoming senatorial polls, authored Republic Act No. 10821 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act.

The measure provides emergency relief and protection for children before, during, and after disasters.#

Senatoriable Pia Cayetano discussing with student leaders from Pangasinan State University.

Pia brings message of hope to community gutted by fire

House Deputy Speaker and Taguig City Representative Pia S. Cayetano on Thursday personally visited a coastal community in Davao City where some 300 families lost their homes to separate fire incidents earlier this month.

Cayetano, who was in Davao City over the weekend to attend the convention of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party, took the opportunity to visit the fire evacuees who have taken refuge at the covered court of Brgy. 76-A in Bucana, Davao City.

Two fire incidents that happened only days apart (August 7 and 9) struck separate areas in the barangay, rendering nearly 300 families there homeless.

Aside from offering emergency relief assistance to the evacuees in coordination with the office of foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (the Deputy Speaker’s younger brother), Cayetano also offered her message of hope that the residents would soon be able to rebuild their homes.

“I have never experienced losing my house to a fire, and so I could never claim to know the extent of the pain that all of you are now going through. But I have experienced how it feels to lose an important part of my life, two members of my family, and so it is through conversations like these that we are able to relate with and support each other,” she told the evacuees.

“Tragedies can strike anyone, anywhere, and sometimes at the most difficult time. It is during these moments that our faith gets tested. But we just have to continue to persevere and recover, even if it means rebuilding from scratch. We do this not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones and children,” she stressed.

The Deputy Speaker also had a surprise for the children evacuees whom she treated to ice cream.

Cayetano also thanked Barangay 76-A leaders and community volunteers whom she urged to take good care of the most vulnerable among the evacuees, including women, especially nursing mothers, young children, and the elderly. #

Cayetano addresses evacuees of Brgy 76-A in Bucana, Davao City