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TAFDRRRTDFinalThe Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), together with its member leagues, and Coalitions for Change (CfC) program, supported by the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation (TAF) partnership in the Philippines, have been spearheading various policy discussions and program development on strengthening the Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) system in the country.

The partnership has organized a series of consultation meetings with national and local governance actors to continue and boost the conversations in terms of DRRM financing. The discussions aim to deepen consensus building and understanding and to determine how to make DRRM financing more responsive to the needs of vulnerable population, towards building a resilient nation.One of the focuses of the initiative is enhancing the National DRRM Fund, a national-level funding source to be used for disaster risk reduction or mitigation, prevention, and preparedness activities.

The discussions were able to map out issues and concerns and derived policy recommendations on the Fund. One of the issues that draw concerns from the LGUs is the minimal share of 2% of local governments from the Fund’s approved projects from 2011-2016 and the outdated guidelines of the Fund, which prioritizes post-disaster programs. As a response, the NDRRM Council expressed intent to revise the Fund’s guidelines aiming to streamline the process and enhance national-local DRRM cooperation.

With the continuous movement in lobbying policy development and reforms, the Council approved the New Guidelines during its full council meeting held on March 14, 2017. ULAP President Governor Al Francis Bichara moved to approve the Guidelines as ULAP with its partners initially expressed its support as it corresponds to the gathered issues and recommendations by the project and is seen to be an opportunity to aid local governments in improving their local DRRM services.

Consequently, a Roundtable Discussion was conducted on the revised Guidelines with selected Local DRRM Officers on March 17, 2017 at Microtel by Wyndham Hotel, Quezon City. The discussion was facilitated by Ms. Crystal Eunice Dela Cruz, Director for Plans, Policies and Programs Unit of ULAP. The RTD aimed to directly inform local governments and to progress the discourses for the effective implementation and execution of local DRRM projects and programs through the new NDRRM Fund Guidelines. Twenty-three (23) local DRRM officials from NCR and nearby LGUs attended the event.

Dr. Ena Fernandez, a consultant from UP Politracs, and Mr. Julius Hontiveros from the NDRRMF Division of the Office of Civil Defense, presented and highlighted the revisions made in the existing NDRRM Fund Guidelines that concerns LGUs, particularly the streamlined process with timelines, inclusion of templates, and prioritization of prevention, mitigation, preparedness projects specially for highly vulnerable and poor LGUs through prioritization composite index.

During the discussion, the attendees shared their experiences concerning the challenges that they, or their fellow constituents, experienced in their respective localities. The participants also raised other additional inputs and other comments on the revisions made in the Guidelines. Some of which are in monitoring mechanisms on the timeline for the approval of the project proposal, the possibility of allocating funds per region, provision for the insurance to DRRM personnel, harmonizing seminars and trainings for their personnel and appropriate human resource management.

The facilitator, in the end, summed up the inputs and additional recommendations shared by the participants and encouraged them to partake in the Technical Working Group on DRRM of ULAP that will help policy development and lobbying to government agencies concerned.  Dr. Fernandez also asked the participants to remain active in discussing ideals and reforms to continue building all-inclusive guidelines that fully caters and assists the needs of LGUs in terms of DRRM.