DOST chief to resign if PAGASA, Phivolcs moved to disaster resilience department

Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña says he would just return to private life if the two agencies are attached to the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience

Rhaydz Barcia

10:51:0am August 9, 2018

10:51:0am August 9, 2018

DOST CHIEF. DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña responds to questions in a press briefing in Legazpi City on August 8, 2018. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

DOST CHIEF. DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña responds to questions in a press briefing in Legazpi City on August 8, 2018. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said he will resign if two agencies under his department are moved to the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). 

De la Peña made the statement in a news briefing at the Bicol University College of Engineering on Wednesday, August 8, when asked about the impact of placing the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astrononical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) under the supervision of the proposed department.

“If PAGASA and Phivolcs will be transferred to DDR, we will abide by the law but I will resign from my post as DOST (Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary and be with my family,” De la Peña said when asked about the possible impact of the transfer of the two agencies.

He said the question on the possible impact of the proposed transfer should be referred to Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, the author of the House bill seeking to create the DDR.

PAGASA Deputy Administrator Landrico Dalida, who was at the briefing, was also opposed to  the proposal. He said a team from PAGASA may be integrated into the proposed DDR, but not the transfer of the entire agency, which is being modernized under the DOST.

“The modernization of PAGASA has been done under DOST....We can help and form part of the DDR but we don’t want to be under the DDR,” Dalida said.  

Salceda said he found De la Peña's pronouncement "very disappointing"

"We appeal to him to review and reconsider his pronouncement,” Salceda said in a text message to Rappler.

“We value his opinion but the climate threat has more force than his personal threat. Ultimately it's the wisdom of the majority of Congress in the plenary that will decide this policy issue,” the lawmaker added.

Malacañang submitted to Congress its version of the DDR bill on July 31. It earlier said the DDR is envisioned to focus on natural disasters and effects of climate change such as cyclones, El Niño, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. 

Under the Palace version of the bill, the department will be led by a disaster resilience secretary and at least 4 undersecretaries in charge of specific divisions, including a "support to operations with strong ICT (information and communications technology) cluster."

In his third State of the Nation Address,  President Rodrigo Duterte called for the creation of a Department of Disaster Management, which was later renamed the DDR under the Palace bill submitted to Congress. 

The bill was approved at the committee level following Duterte's SONA endorsement. – Rappler.com