Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr creates task force on disaster response, crisis management

2023 May 8

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has ordered the creation of a task force for disaster response and crisis management, Malacañang said on Monday.

In a statement released by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Marcos signed Executive Order No. 24 on April 30 creating the Disaster Response and Crisis Management Task Force to ensure a “clear unity of command to lead the government’s efforts in confronting challenges brought about by natural disasters through evidence-driven and science-based approach in crisis management”.

The task force shall be composed of members from the Office of the Executive Secretary, Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Office of Civil Defense.

Under the EO which takes effect immediately, the President shall designate the task force’s chairperson and vice chairperson from among its members, with the member agencies also designating senior officials to act as their representatives to the task force.

The EO states that the task force shall oversee and coordinate the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of disaster risk management (DRRM) plans and programs on disaster preparedness and response, as well as provide leadership in developing approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, and response.

It is also tasked to collaborate with relevant government agencies and local governments, ensure an integrated approach in disaster preparedness and response, and deliver accessible assistance programs to affected communities.

The task force is mandated to establish a calibrated national disaster mobilization system, exercise oversight powers over government agencies with relevant mandates on disaster preparedness and response, and engage the assistance of consultants, experts, and professional advisors.

Other functions, according to the EO, include managing and overseeing the implementation of national, local and community-based disaster resilience programs, convening the members of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council for declaring and lifting a state of calamity, and approving disbursements from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund.

In support of regional and local disaster risk reduction management councils, the task force will organize Quick Response Groups which can be deployed during or in anticipation of the imminent impact of a disaster.

The EO also mandates all government agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations and government financial institutions, as well as state universities and colleges, to provide the necessary support and assistance to the task force.

The funding shall be sourced from existing appropriations of the member-agencies of the task force, as may applicable, the contingent fund and other funding sources identified by the Department of Budget and Management.

Senator Mark Villar, meanwhile, filed Senate Resolution No 590 on Monday urging an inquiry in aid of legislation for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to assess the current status of heat index monitoring and warning systems in the country.

The resolution seeks to identify the potential impacts of extreme heat on public health and the economy.

Villar filed the resolution after learning of 120 students who collapsed during a fire drill in Cabuyao City, Laguna and another 90 who passed out during a gathering in Taytay, Palawan, both because of heat exhaustion.

Heat-related illnesses affect not only the public’s health but also the agricultural and industrial sector’s productivity, ultimately affecting the country’s economy and social welfare, according to the resolution.

“It is important for PAGASA to provide our countrymen with sufficient and early information through text messages and other technologies,” Villar said in a statement. “This inquiry is necessary to ensure that appropriate preventive measures will be taken when the heat index reaches dangerous levels.”

Filane Mikee Cervantes (PNA)