The project revolved around the advocacy and lobbying work towards the enactment of a responsive DRRM Law. This case study is divided into two parts. The first part was the advocacy work of the network to ensure the passing of a DRRM Bill (2008-2010), and the second part is its current advocacy work in amending that DRRM Bill (2015-present) to make it more responsive and address the current challenges.
Why did the CBDRM intervention take place?
Prior to the passage of Republic Act 10121, the primary policy covering disaster management in the Philippines was the Presidential Decree 1566. This policy was limited to disaster response which centred only around the hazard and impacts of disasters. This reactive approach to managing disasters was inadequate considering the vulnerability of the country to disasters, thus the clamour for a more proactive approach to disaster risk reduction and management.
The primary objectives of the project are to elevate the importance of disaster risk management at the policy level and to develop a DRR national policy and mainstream DRM/DRR into development policy and planning. Specifically, the project aimed to:
- increase understanding of communities and policy-makers on how DRM and DRR are significant to sustainable development;
- impart knowledge on DRM and DRR for strategy implementation;
- build capacities of communities on DRR and enable them to bring their concerns to national policy-making bodies;
- build capacities at the national and local levels for mainstreaming and implementing DRM and DRR in the development process;
- advance disaster risk reduction through appropriate legislation and action plans which address issues on governance, risk assessment, knowledge management, reduction of vulnerabilities and disaster preparedness.
What were the activities?
The project consisted of two components, namely: (a) policy support for communities; and (b) policy advocacy with policy-makers. Both components emphasised understanding basic concepts of hazards, vulnerability, risks and disasters and their interrelationships in order to achieve the objectives of the project.
Under the policy support component, public awareness-raising and capacity-building activities were implemented to ensure that the understanding, knowledge and competence of the communities enable them to understand disaster risks and vulnerability and to facilitate disaster risk reduction at the local level. They were also trained to lobby for the prioritisation of disaster risk reduction and management at the local level.
In the policy advocacy component, meetings and conferences with policy-makers were implemented to inform them that the country’s vulnerability to disasters has increasingly challenged its social and economic development, and that the passing of the DRRM Bill will provide the solution to sustain its poverty reduction effort and socioeconomic development. It aimed to enable policy-makers to understand the complexity of disaster issues, the DRR framework and the social, economic and environmental benefits for implementing the strategy on DRR and mainstreaming DRR into development policy and planning.
Under the second component, DRRNetPhils conducted the following: (1) review, assessment and analysis of the current DRRM policies and programs in the country to determine the gaps and challenges that can be addressed by the passing of a new law; (2) formulation of policy advocacy strategy to ensure that all the policy recommendations identified during assessment will be considered by both chambers of Philippine Congress; and (3) consultations and lobbying with both the legislators and the network members.
The network also conducted DRR fora with various stakeholders; held media briefings to solicit media support by way of news articles to put pressure on Congress to act on the bill; formed a speakers’ bureau; and developed knowledge and promotional products such as publications, reports, audio-visual presentations, briefing documents/ primers and collateral materials such as t-shirts, button pins, wristbands, etc.
DRRNetPhils produced primers on DRRM explaining the reforms needed in dealing with disasters and how the law could address the gaps in risk reduction and management.
To secure support for the bill from key legislators, the lobbying team of the network maintained their presence in key legislative activities such as Technical Working Group (TWG) meetings, Committee Hearings and Plenary Sessions. They also held regular meeting with legislators and their staff.
To build a base of support, the network also partnered with like-minded CSOs, academia, national government agencies, and local government units.
Who funded it?
Christian Aid – lead in the advocacy work within PINGON
What other actors were involved?
- Philippine International NGO Network (PINGON)
- Ateneo School of Governance (ASoG) – eventually became part of DRRNetPhils and spearheaded the legal aspect of the advocacy and lobby work for the DRRM bill
How long was the project for?
The project was originally for six months from November 2008 to April 2009. However, this was not realised within the original terms of the project. With sufficient funds still on hand to cover advocacy work and activities, the project gained approval for a ‘no-cost extension’.
When did it end?
The project ended when the bill was eventually passed into law in May 2010.
The DRRM law has a provision for a sunset review where after five years of implementation, the accomplishments and impacts, as well the performance and organisational aspects of the implementing agencies will be evaluated for the purpose of determining remedial legislation.
In 2015, DRRNetPhils started conducting consultation workshops with CSOs, government agencies, and local government units on their lessons and experience in implementing the law. Gaps and challenges were identified, as well as policy recommendations for the improvement of the current law. These policy recommendations were lobbied to be included in the amendatory bill.
DRRNetPhils participated in the Sunset Review process, as one of the four (4) CSO representatives in the National DRRM Council and the official representative to the Technical Working Group that drafted the amendatory bill.
The amendatory bill is now being discussed at the Technical Working Group level at the House or Representatives. In the middle of the network’s advocacy, an issue on what framework shall be used in the policy arose. After various discussions and debates between the frameworks of disaster risk reduction and civil defence, it has been agreed that disaster risk reduction aiming to prevent new and reduce existing risk is the policy objective; therefore, the DRR framework shall be employed.
The network also identified Congressman Joey Salceda as the main champion being the principal sponsor of the amendatory bill. His leadership was instrumental in convincing Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to drop their position on using the civil defence framework. Various possible allies and opponents were also identified through political mapping and CSO partners committed to discussing the issue with their partner local government units (LGUs) and communities as well as with some allies in Congress. This resulted in a community of practitioners and advocates calling for the amendments to the DRRM law.
To sustain the initial gains of the campaign, the Policy and Advocacy Committee is still engaging stakeholders, lobbying with legislators, and seeking support from other DRRM practitioners and advocates. Once the amendment is passed, the work shall continue in monitoring its implementation and further advocating for other strategies that will contribute to building disaster resilience and achievement of sustainable development.