Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed the recent announcement by President Rodrigo Duterte to create an inter-agency task force that would singularly focus on fast-tracking recovery and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by the recent series of typhoons.
Go reassured the public that a whole-of-government approach is underway to ensure sufficient response to the needs of typhoon victims as well as in rebuilding affected communities severely hit by various typhoons the past days.
He emphasized that President Duterte has been consistent in his top marching orders for all concerned agencies to immediately assist all affected Filipinos, utilize all available resources to restore normalcy as soon as possible, and mobilize the whole government for a holistic approach towards recovery and rehabilitation.
“Patuloy ang rescue and response operations ng military and uniformed personnel hanggang maisalba ang lahat ng nangangailangan ng saklolo. Handa rin ang mga ahensya na tulungan ang mga nasalanta at patuloy ang pagbibigay ng mga pagkain, tubig, gamot, at iba pang relief assistance at pati na rin financial aid. Sinisikap din na maibalik kaagad ang supply ng kuryente, komunikasyon at tubig sa mga apektadong lugar,” Go said.
“Asahan po ninyo na gagawin namin ang lahat ng aming makakaya upang makabangon kayo muli mula sa pagsubok na ito. Hindi kayo pababayaan ng gobyerno ninyo na palaging nagmamalasakit sa inyo. Magbayanihan po tayo,” he urged.
Go joined President Duterte in carrying out an aerial inspection of typhoon-hit areas, such as the towns of Enrile, Iguig and Solana in Cagayan province on Sunday, November 15. The President also briefly talked to affected residents in Solana town upon landing. A briefing with national and local officials was held in Tuguegarao City.
Later in the day, both went to Camarines Sur for an aerial inspection of Minalabac and Bula towns and for another briefing at the provincial capitol with key Cabinet members and local officials.
“Ang opisina ko naman po ay patuloy ang pagbibigay ng dagdag na tulong sa mga apektado nating mga kababayan, lalo na ‘yung mga kailangan ng tulong medikal,” Go mentioned.
The Philippines has been battered with a series of calamities in a span of just two months on top of the health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic. But throughout these crises, Go said that the government has shown that it is on top of the situation.
“Our government is all hands on deck. The President is in charge and took part in the planning and preparation process,” Go said.
“We registered fewer deaths, evacuated more people, forewarned a significant number of the population and maintained safety, security, and orderliness in communities compared to similar calamities in the past,” Go added, explaining that government efforts keep improving in terms of disaster preparedness and response.
But despite these notable efforts, Go recognizes the need to institutionalize further the mechanisms necessary to ensure full recovery and rehabilitation while “building back better.”
“Aside from providing help, we must also ensure that everything we do is synchronized, coordinated, and done well. I cannot stress this enough: Government must move as one to ensure that the delivery of assistance is timely, effective, and responsive,” he said.
While he recognizes the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s crucial role in disaster preparedness and response, Go said that the council still needs help in implementing and monitoring post-disaster recovery.
“Dito papasok ang Task Force sa recovery and rehab. May klaro itong mandato at kapasidad upang maimplementa ang mga programa hanggang makabangon muli ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi ito titigil hanggang matapos ang trabaho,” he explained.
Go, however, reiterated that in the long term, what the country truly needs to become disaster resilient is to institutionalize a single department that will handle all these responsibilities.
“Kaya ako paulit ulit na umaapela na ipasa na ang batas na magtatayo ng Department of Disaster Resilience. Ilang kalamidad at sakuna pa ba ang kailangan para maintindihan na kailangan na nating aksyunan ito upang mas palakasin pa ang mekanismong mayroon tayo ngayon,” he said.
“Kung may alinlangan ang mga kapwa kong mambabatas, pag-usapan natin sa Senado. Willing naman tayong lahat makinig at magtrabaho para makabuo ng solusyon ukol dito. Ang importante, aksyunan na natin at huwag nang patagalin pa dahil buhay ng mga Pilipino ang nakataya dito,” he added.
Go called on his colleagues in the Senate to look into Senate Bill 205, which he filed last year. Known as the Disaster Resilience Act of 2019, it seeks to create the Department of Disaster Resilience or DDR, which shall unify and streamline all responsibilities related to disaster preparedness and response that are presently scattered across various departments and offices.
The Senator has also appealed to the executive department to augment the calamity funds of the local government units, especially those that are still trying to control the spread of COVID-19 and are still recovering from other calamities.
Meanwhile, in a media interview after his briefing in Camarines Sur, President Duterte emphasized the importance of preparing even before typhoons hit the country. “What is important is that you have the machineries and you have the equipment, and you have the money, and people are there deployed before the typhoon comes,” the President said.
Duterte also shared that during the recent virtual ASEAN Summit he attended, he discussed with his fellow leaders in the region about the impact of climate change, considering the vulnerable geographical location of the Philippines in the Asia Pacific region.