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Duterte urges Congress: Repeal the statute on declaring a state of calamity

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress or the next President to remove a law mandating the review of catastrophe reports before declaring a state of calamity.

Duterte may have been alluding to the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, also known as Republic Act No. (RA) 10121.

“If this Congress wants to, for the future President, may I advise, attempt to abolish the law so that government, there is already the warning, hindi na kailangan ng (no need for) assessment because the warning is just too far away for us to prepare,” he stated in a prerecorded Talk to the People.

He criticized the delay in declaring a state of calamity in the districts hit by Typhoon Odette as a “hindrance” and a “legal hurdle” that impeded the government from acting quickly.

“Before you can proclaim a state of calamity, you have to evaluate and appraise the damage.” These are the things, these are the legislation that Congress has approved. He said, “Sila man ang (They make the) ultimate word diyan (there) whether it should be or not.”

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), according to Duterte, will find it difficult to produce an evaluation while still offering support to typhoon victims.

“I can’t rely on [NDRRMC Executive Director] Undersecretary [Ricardo] Jalad because kasagsagan talaga ‘yan ng ano…

therefore it was not possible to make an instant assessment of the damage. That’s ridiculous, and it puts a limit on my power… “Undersecretary Jalad is now rescuing and retrieving patay na tao (dead bodies),” he explained.

He believes that cash should be provided even before a state of calamity is declared in the event of a disaster.

“An emergency is an emergency, and it isn’t contingent on the magnitude of the harm right now…

It couldn’t be done in a month, he continued, because “maghintay ka para magdeclare ng (and then you wait to proclaim a) state of calamity.”

He claimed that such legislation “does not assist, but rather imposes a burden” on the government.

Duterte slammed individuals who blamed the government for taking so long to respond to the typhoon’s devastation, claiming that finding financing sources was difficult.

“We’re always wrong, and they’re always right, according to the critics…

“This is not martial law,” he explained, “where you can immediately pull the money and start buying.”

When Typhoon Odette struck portions of Visayas and Mindanao on Dec. 16, it killed about 389 people and displaced over 1 million people.

On December 21, Duterte declared a state of calamity in the areas hit by Typhoon Odette, including Mimaropa (Region 4-B), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Northern Mindanao (Region 10) and Caraga (Region 13).

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