Senator Francis Tolentino pushed for the passage of a measure that would require the mandatory civil conscription for disaster and humanitarian service.
In his sponsorship speech delivered during the plenary session, Tolentino stressed that a ready and able body of professionals be equipped to be called upon to render aid in emergency situations to enable communities to quickly respond to such calamities.
Tolentino filed Senate Bill 1129 in the wake of a series of strong earthquakes that have affected millions of Filipinos in Mindanao.
“I rise today, urging you all that we must exert all efforts to address against these calamities, both natural and man-made, to save not only our lives but that of our children and the future generations,” Tolentino said.
“The bill, entitled the Civil Conscription Act… will require the mandatory service of professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and engineers, in the aftermath of calamities and disasters,” he added.
Under the bill, professionals, such as structural engineers and licensed medical personnel, may be called upon by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to render mandatory civil service and humanitarian purposes in times of disasters and calamities in order to aid in humanitarian efforts and post-disaster rehabilitation through a system of recruitment for a limited period.
The senator also urged his colleagues to fast-track the passage of a bill creating the Department of Disaster Management.
“It is hereby proposed that the new Department of Disaster Management be created to serve as the lead agency for all disasters and rehabilitation management programs, policies and activities in the country. Among its thrusts will be the immediate or quick rehabilitation of affected areas,” he said.
He noted that post-disaster rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction are major challenges not only in terms of costs but also in securing consensus among stakeholders of what constitutes “building back better”.
He stressed the need to design post-disaster physical infrastructure and socio-economic systems to adequately withstand the very real possibility of another mega-disaster.
“A credible Post Disaster Needs Assessment and a comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan are critical in order to restore and improve the facilities, livelihood, living conditions and organizational capacities of the affected communities,” he added. (PNA)