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From reactive to proactive: Bill pushes early action to mitigate climate disasters

MANILA, Philippines — A House lawmaker has filed a bill that seeks to institutionalize anticipatory actions for mitigating the impacts of hazards before they occur, a move welcomed by humanitarian organizations as a positive step toward addressing climate risks.

Under House Bill 9935 filed by Rep. Jose Manuel Alba (Bukidnon), declaring a “state of imminent disaster” allows using national and local resources for proactive measures before a disaster. 

“This mechanism will enable the government to anticipate and respond effectively to impending disasters, thereby minimizing their adverse impacts on vulnerable communities and enhancing the country’s resilience to disasters,” the bill’s explanatory note read.

Humanitarian organizations within the Start Network welcomed the filing of the bill, calling it a “first-of-its-kind” initiative with the potential to save more lives and livelihoods as the country faces intensified risks due to the climate crisis.

“With early deployment of funds, we can lessen the response time and we can ensure that the measures we execute—from early action to early response—respond to the most immediate needs of communities,” Arvin Caro, country crisis financing advisor of Start Network, told

He added that providing cash grants before a cyclone hits can enable families to buy necessary supplies like medicine, such as those for preventing diarrhea, and help local governments ensure that evacuation centers meet the needs of women, elderly and children. 

Under the bill, the national government and local government units (LGUs) can declare a “state of imminent disaster” over a cluster of barangays, municipalities, cities, provinces and regions, upon the recommendations of disaster risk reduction and management offices if the projected affected population requires “expeditious emergency assistance” to prepare for a disaster.

A “state of imminent disaster” can also be declared if there is a projected damage to critical infrastructure and facilities that are necessary for emergency response or if there is an expected disruption of lifeline systems such as food supply chain, electricity, potable water system, and communication system.