SEVERAL villages in Maguindanao were flooded after dikes were damaged by a series of earthquakes in Mindanao in later Oct. 2019. — MAHDI MOHAMAD VIA OXFAM

A BILL has been filed in the Bangsamoro Parliament seeking to establish a ministry for disaster management, which will serve as lead agency on preparedness and response measures for both natural and man-made calamities.

“The enactment of this bill will, hopefully, address the fragmentation in Disaster Risk Management interventions from response to rehabilitation and recovery,” Parliament Member Baintan Adil Ampatuan, author of the proposed measure, said in a statement on Wednesday.

She noted that under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government, various ministries and agencies handle the different components of disaster management, “yet there is not one single devoted or focused ministry… working to build disaster resilience.”

Ms. Ampatuan cited BARMM’s vulnerability to flooding and landslides, earthquakes, 25 active volcanoes, and the continued threat of extremist and militant groups.

“The Marawi siege, as well as the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) and ASG’s (Abu Sayyaf Group) intermittent attacks in some BARMM areas, are manifestations of these human-induced disasters,” she said.

She also underscored that many areas in the BARMM, being one of the poorest regions in the country, “feel the destructive effects of disasters more keenly.”

“We also have to acknowledge that we have fewer resources to prevent, mitigate, face, and cope with the aftermaths of disasters. Disasters hit the underprivileged the hardest, and so many of our constituents are disadvantaged.”

Apart from creating the disaster management ministry, Bangsamoro Transition Authority Bill No.153 also outlines funding provisions.

“If our government invests in disaster risk preparedness, mitigation, and reduction, over time it can reduce the potential losses, thus freeing up critical resources for development,” Ms. Ampatuan said. — MSJ

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