To facilitate rescue and recovery efforts and ensure immediate restoration of essential services
On Sunday, December 19, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined President Duterte in an aerial and site inspection of areas in Cebu and Bohol severely affected by Typhoon Odette.
Duterte and Go, together with key officials, flew to Argao, Cebu to assess the extent of damage caused by the typhoon and provide aid to evacuees at the Argao Sports Complex. They also facilitated a situational briefing with key national and local leaders in the area. After that, they proceeded to Inabanga, Bohol, to likewise assess the situation, meet with local leaders, and provide help to typhoon victims.
“Kahapon naman ay binisita namin ni Pangulong Duterte ang bayan ng Argao sa Cebu at Inabanga sa lalawigan ng Bohol. Nakipagpulong kami sa mga opisyal doon upang masigurong matutugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng mga biktima, lalo na pagdating sa pagkain, tubig, gamot, kuryente, at telecommunication services,” Go said.
Echoing Duterte’s directives, Go added that there is a need to restore power and telecommunications to aid field personnel in making timely and accurate coordination with their respective agencies as well as allowing victims to get in touch with their worried families and loved ones.
“Sa aming mga nakita, talagang malaki ang pinsala ng bagyong dumaan. Kritikal na maayos kaagad ang mga nasirang kalsada at tulay at magsagawa ng clearing operations upang mas mabilis makapasok ang mga rescue and relief vehicles, personnel and goods,” said Go in a statement.
“Kailangang maibalik kaagad ang kuryente at telecommunications upang mas mapabilis ang coordination ng mga field personnel at maging ng mga kababayan nating kailangang makausap at makumusta ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” he added.
During his visit, Duterte directed concerned agencies to coordinate with key players from the private sector particularly energy and telecommunication companies, as well as other stakeholders, to facilitate the immediate restoration of essential services that had been disrupted by the typhoon.
He also ordered the National Housing Authority to exert all efforts possible to rebuild communities by providing housing materials and other aid needed to repair damaged homes or build new ones.
“Nagbigay rin ng dagdag na directives si Pangulong Duterte sa mga ahensya, katulad ng paggamit ng mga Quick Response Funds nila; pagbibigay ng housing assistance, including provision of housing materials for repair of damaged houses; tulong para sa nasirang mga bangka ng mga mangingisda at iba pang agricultural machineries; repair ng mga nasirang gusali, tulay, paliparan, daungan, kalsada at iba pa; community tents bilang temporary evacuation centers; pagkain, tubig at gamot; at food-for-work, cash-for-work at iba pang mga programa upang maibangon muli ang kabuhayan ng mga nasalanta,” Go explained.
Duterte also instructed government finance managers to ensure the availability of funds for agencies involved in the response and rehabilitation efforts as well as to provide additional calamity funds to the affected local government units.
“Agarang nagpahanda ang Pangulong Duterte ng dagdag na pondo para sa mga ahensya na pangunahing tumutugon sa krisis at pati rin sa mga apektadong LGUs. Hangad ng Pangulo na pabilisin ang restoration of normalcy as soon as possible,” Go said.
Go said that based on the meetings conducted with key officials, the President assured that the government is ready to respond to the crisis. The senator emphasized however that a whole-of-nation approach is necessary to fast-track the recovery efforts.
“Inihanda na rin ang MARINA, Philippine Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force at iba pang frontliners para tumulong sa rescue and recovery operations at masigurong makakarating ang mga relief items, equipment at essential personnel sa mga apektadong lugar,” Go said.
“Magpapadala rin kaagad ang DOH ng dagdag na mga gamot, medical equipment at health personnel para maalagaan ang kalusugan ng evacuees,” he added.
The Philippines has been battered by Typhoon Odette 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.
“Nakakalungkot ang nangyari na habang unti-unti na nating nalalampasan ang pandemya ay maraming mga kababayan naman natin ang naging biktima ng bagyong Odette. Papalapit na ang Pasko at ang Bagong Taon ngunit panibagong pagsubok na naman ang dumating sa ating bansa. Gayunpaman, nakikita kong nananatiling matatag ang diwa ng bayanihan na nagbibigay ng lakas at pag-asa sa ating mga Pilipino,” Go stressed.
Despite these efforts, Go underscored the need to further institutionalize the mechanisms required to enable complete recovery and rehabilitation while rebuilding better. He reaffirmed that, in the long run, the country’s disaster resilience requires the establishment of a focused department to handle all of these responsibilities.
“Consistent with my earlier pronouncements as a lawmaker, I continue to push for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience to ensure a quicker, more proactive and holistic government response to calamities and other natural disasters,” said Go.
Moreover, Go also has consistently proposed the establishment of a mandatory evacuation center in every LGU equipped to keep victims safe from harm and taken cared of.
“We must continue improving our disaster resilience mechanisms in order to be more prepared for any crisis as lives are at stake,” he said.
With the Filipino people’s unwavering cooperation anchored on the principles of malasakit and bayanihan, Go said that the country will overcome these challenges and ensure no one is left behind towards recovery and a better future.
“Malaking bagay ang pakikiisa ng mga kababayan natin sa gobyerno. Ang ari-arian ay pwede namang maipundar natin ulit basta ang pinakaimportante ay buhay tayo. At sa mga pamilya ng mga nasawi sa trahedyang ito, taus-pusong nakikiramay kami ni Pangulong Duterte,” said Go.
On December 18, Go and the President also conducted an aerial inspection of typhoon-hit areas in Visayas and Mindanao. From Metro Manila, the two passed over Siargao Island before landing in Surigao City.
After surveying the damage at the airport, they conducted an aerial inspection of the Dinagat Islands before proceeding to Maasin City in Southern Leyte where they extended aid and met with leaders to discuss rescue and recovery efforts. Upon returning to Surigao City, they distributed relief and met with key national and local officials.