MANILA - The proposed Department of Disaster Management would just be another unneeded part of bureaucracy and would kill volunteerism in times of calamity, Sen. Richard Gordon said Saturday.
Gordon, who also heads the Philippine Red Cross, said the department, proposed by President Duterte in his 2018 state of the nation address, would supplant the efforts already being done in the local level.
"You have local governments beginning to learn the job. Why would you need to create another agency?" He said.
Currently, disaster response is spearheaded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council under the military's Office of Civil Defense.
A bill to create a "Department of Disaster Resiliency" has already been filed in the House of Representatives but no counterpart has been proposed in the Senate.
Gordon added that creating a national agency for disaster response would run counter to the Duterte administration's push for federalism.
"We should cut down on big government. The less departments we have the better. We could even combine departments to save money," he said.
Gordon said the task of a national agency to oversee and coordinate disaster response and relief is already being done by the NDRRMC and the focus of efforts was being done on the ground by local officials and organizations like the PRC.
He expressed doubts if a new department would be able to ensure speedy response to disasters.
"Will it have focus? Will it be fast, friendly--meaning intelligible and easily understood? Will it be flexible and forward looking?" Gordon asked.
At the press conference, Gordon had commented that the Philippines has improved its disaster preparedness.
"The Philippines has gotten better in preparation for disasters but the problem is storms have gotten bigger. So tulungan tayo para ma-alleviate ang suffering ng mga kababayan natin," he said.
Centralizing disaster response, he added, could undermine efforts like that of the Red Cross in training young people in preparedness and delivering first aid.
"If you create this, you kill volunteerism. The best way is to teach people to save themselves."