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Sen. Go aids flood victims in Davao City, advocates for disaster resilience

DAVAO CITY (PIA) -- In an effort to bolster the country's disaster preparedness and response capabilities, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has been advocating for two crucial bills in the Senate that he earlier filed: Senate Bill No. (SBN) 188 and SBN 193.

Senate Bill 188 seeks to establish the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), while SBN 193 mandates the establishment of mandatory evacuation centers nationwide.

On July 29, Go, who led two relief operations for thousands of flood victims in Barangays Lasang and Bunawan in Davao City, said the government should remain proactive in its approach in dealing with disaster-related situations, considering that the country is highly vulnerable to natural calamities.

SBN 188 proposes the creation of the DDR, an independent government agency dedicated to strengthening the nation's resilience against the impacts of natural and human-induced disasters. The DDR aims to consolidate disaster-related functions and resources from different agencies under a single, unified body. By streamlining disaster response efforts, the department can facilitate quicker and more efficient aid delivery to affected communities during times of crisis.

“Importante po ito sa akin. Unang-una, halimbawa dito po sa Barangay Lasang, binaha sila. Di ba ang barangay po ang nakikipag-coordinate kaagad with the LGUs. Ito pong barangay level na pagbaha, how about ‘yung mga national level, o municipal level o city level, o province-wide na pagbaha… maayos na koordinasyon ang kailangan,” he said.

“Bago dumating ang bagyo, balita pa lang sa PAGASA, coordination kaagad ng Department of Disaster Resilience, kung mayroon tayong isang departamentong nakatutok para sa mga disaster related… bago dumating ang bagyo, coordination with LGUs. Ilikas ang mga kababayan natin sa ligtas na lugar, dalahin sa mga evacuation center. Preposition of goods by the DSWD,” Go added.

He stressed “Kailangan koordinasyon kaagad ng departamento na i-involve kaagad ang mga ibang departamento na kasamahan niya. DSWD preposition of goods, mga Coast Guard, Navy para ilikas agad ang mga kababayan natin sa ligtas na lugar at maayos na evacuation center, sa Department of Health para malinis ang evacuation center, sanitation para ligtas ang mga kababayan natin. 

At pag-alis ng bagyo, hindi lang puro task force, dapat isang departamento na pwedeng mag-coordinate hanggang makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay ang lugar na tinamaan ng bagyo. Restoration of normalcy kaagad at rehabilitation effort.” 

The Office of Civil Defense has recently voiced its support for the establishment of the DDR, emphasizing the importance of such institution in improving operations in managing and responding to future crises.

"Things can be better if there will be an independent authority or department, but it’s not that simple – tanggap po namin iyon… We leave it to Congress and we leave it to the Palace, to Malacañang. Meanwhile, kami naman, we are doing our best given the limitations, makakaasa po kayo," OCD Administrator Ariel Nepomuceno said in a past interview.

Alongside the establishment of DDR, Go champions SBN 193, which calls for the creation of mandatory evacuation centers across the Philippines. These evacuation centers are designed to be equipped with necessary facilities to provide temporary shelter and essential services to evacuees during disasters.

The senator noted that these evacuation centers will be strategically placed in areas less prone to hazards, ensuring the safety and well-being of evacuees during disasters. Furthermore, the centers will be equipped with essential amenities such as food, clean water, medical services, sanitation facilities, and temporary sleeping quarters.

Go cited that the Philippines, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and the typhoon belt, is no stranger to the destructive forces of nature. “Yearly, the country faces the threat of typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and other hazards. These disasters not only result in loss of lives and livelihoods but also impede economic progress and development,” shared Go.

To minimize the devastating impact of disasters, Go underscored that comprehensive disaster resilience measures are imperative. The senator is confident that by supporting these priority bills, the Senate and the Filipino people can collectively work towards a safer, more resilient nation, where communities can recover swiftly and thrive even in the face of adversity.

“Ang lugar natin nasa Pacific Ring of Fire tayo. Prone tayo sa mga bagyo, prone tayo sa pagputok ng bulkan, prone tayo sa sunog, ‘di ba? So dapat po ay magkaroon na tayo ng isang maayos na departamento, Department of Disaster Resilience at Mandatory Evacuation Center sa mga syudad, munisipyo, at probinsya para hindi magamit ang mga eskwelahan tuwing may mga sunog, baha. Nagagamit po ang eskwelahan, naantala ang pag-aaral ng mga bata dahil ginagamit po as evacuation center,” he said.

Together with Councilors Dante Apostol, Marissa Abella, Diosdado Mahipus, and Al Ryan Alejandre, Go provided grocery packs, masks, vitamins, and snacks to 4,399 flood victims. The senator also extended shoes, mobile phones, bicycles, watches, and balls for basketball and volleyball to select recipients.

Meanwhile, Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, urged those who have health issues to seek assistance from the Malasakit Center at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.

The Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go principally authored and sponsored, brings together various government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Health (DHOH), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC), and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), under one roof to provide a convenient process for availing medical assistance particularly for poor and indigent patients in public hospitals.

There are now 158 Malasakit Centers nationwide which have assisted more than seven million Filipinos, according to DOH data. In SPMC alone, the Malasakit Center there has assisted more than 200,000 patients.

On the same day, Go attended the ribbon-cutting of the multipurpose building in Brgy. Lasang and road concretion with drainage canal construction in Brgy. Bunawan, two infrastructure projects he supported the funding of as vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance.

He likewise supported the acquisition of multi-purpose vehicles for the community, construction of various multipurpose buildings and local roads, rehabilitation of water systems, drainage systems and flood control structures in different barangays throughout the city, the construction of a 300-bed capacity infectious diseases building for SPMC and the acquisition of ambulances, among others. (Story and photo from OSBG)

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