Amid the crisis caused by Typhoon Odette, Bong Go renews push for passage of disaster resiliency measures

Amid the massive devastation left behind by Typhoon Odette, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go renewed his call for the legislature to pass a series of bills intended to improve the country’s resilience and capabilities to mitigate, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.

Go pointed out that the Philippines, which is hit by an average of 20 typhoons per year, consistently ranks among the most climate-vulnerable countries. It recently ranked fourth in the list of countries most affected by extreme weather events from 2000 to 2019 in the Global Climate Risk Index (2021) developed by Bonn-based think tank Germanwatch.

To mitigate the loss of life and property due to natural disasters, the senator specifically pushed for the passage of a long overdue measure that would institutionalize a clear chain of command, responsive mechanisms, and holistic and proactive approach to handling crisis situations.

Introduced in 2019, Go’s Senate Bill No. 205 consolidates all disaster-related agencies into the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR). Doing so would allow for a more concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction and the quicker and more efficient delivery of services during times of crises.

“Kung gaano kabilis at kadalas ang pagdating ng krisis sa ating bansa, dapat lamang na maging mas mabilis, maayos, at maaasahan ang serbisyo ng gobyerno upang maprotektahan ang kapakanan at buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” said the lawmaker.

“Isang aspeto na dapat natin maisaayos ay ang inter-agency coordination. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit matagal ko nang inirerekomenda at paulit-ulit ko nang sinasabi na dapat magkaroon ng isang departamento para mayroong timon na tagapamahala ng preparedness, response, and resilience mechanisms pagdating sa mga sakuna,” he added.

Go further noted that all disaster-related agencies, such as the Office of Civil Defense and Philippine Institute of Volcanology, are currently dispersed across different departments. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is relegated to serving as a coordinating body between the various agencies.

If enacted, the proposed department will be primarily responsible for ensuring communities are disaster-resilient, adaptive and safe in the long run. It will focus on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.

Aside from the DDR bill, Go likewise called for the passage of SBN 1228 which provides for the establishment of a permanent evacuation center in every province, city and municipality. The bill, which he filed in the same year and has since passed first reading, proposes a minimum set of requirements for every evacuation center, such as its location, accessibility, operation and amenities.

Each center will be directed to maintain a stockpile of essential supplies, such as food, water, clothing, medicine and hygiene packages. It will also have fully-equipped facilities to further ensure the well-being of every Filipino as they weather typhoons and other calamities.

To fast-track the affected families’ recovery, Go also appealed for the enactment of SBN 2393, otherwise called the Rental Housing Subsidy Act, to provide families displaced by natural and man-made disasters the necessary housing subsidies so they can relocate during the interim process of construction and have better access to the formal housing market.

“Tutulungan ng batas na ito na mabigyan ang mga mahihirap at informal settler-families natin ng disenteng buhay. Hangad ko ang suporta ng mga mambabatas dahil ang lahat ng ‘to ay para sa kabutihan ng Pilipino,” continued the senator.

“Asahan niyo na gagawin ko ang parte ko sa Senado upang isulong ang lahat ng mga nais nating makamit sa pamamagitan ng pagpasa ng mga makabuluhan at epektibong batas gaya nito,” he vowed.

Two days after Typhoon Odette made landfall, Go joined President Rodrigo Duterte to assess the situation in affected areas, give aid and comfort to victims, and help fast-track recovery efforts. They conducted inspections and situation briefings from December 18 to 20, particularly in most-hit communities such as Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.

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PRRD, Bong Go visit typhoon hit areas in Cebu and Bohol

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.

All hands on deck

As PRRD, concerned agencies lead rescue and recovery efforts in Typhoon hit communities while Bong Go assures victims of continuous support and aid

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined President Rodrigo Duterte in an aerial inspection of the hardest-hit areas in Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands and Southern Leyte on Saturday, December 18, to survey the extent of the destruction caused by Typhoon Odette.

Go and the President flew from Metro Manila and 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.

In a message of solidarity with the victims, Go assured that the Duterte Administration would provide all forms of assistance needed by communities to bolster their recovery. He then thanked all government officials, first responders and volunteers who are doing their best to respond to the disaster and save lives.

“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,” appealed Go.

“Sisikapin natin na maibalik sa lalong madaling panahon ang supply ng kuryente, komunikasyon at tubig sa mga apektadong lugar. Patuloy ang rescue and recovery operations at ang pagbibigay ng pagkain, tubig at iba pang relief sa mga nasalanta. Buong gobyerno nandito para tumulong at gampanan ang kanilang tungkulin,” he reassured.

During the situational briefing in Maasin City, President Duterte pledged to release P1 billion in calamity funds to the affected local government units and another P1 billion to the concerned government agencies, saying the government is aiming for the “earliest return to normalcy”. He directed officials to make sure funds are available for the procurement of food, medicines and other essential needs.

To assist in the immediate recovery and rehabilitation of the affected areas, the President specifically ordered the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Housing Authority, and Office of Civil Defense to expedite the delivery of assistance to areas in greatest need.

The DPWH was instructed to clear all roads and provide the needed equipment to the LGUs while the DSWD was called to ensure the continuous distribution of relief goods. The Department of Health was also ordered to send additional medical supplies and augment the health personnel in the Dinagat Islands.

On the other hand, the DOE was tasked to expedite the return of electricity and the Department of Information and Communications Technology to augment mobile cell sites and provided satellite phones or other modes of communication in the affected areas.

Finally, the NHA was called upon to assist displaced families, in coordination with DHSUD. The DA was also tasked to provide boats and seedlings to affected farmers and fisherfolk.

In addition, the President specifically directed concerned departments to assess the extent of damage and address the concerns of the LGUs. Social Welfare Secretary Joselito Bautista, meanwhile, was assigned to act as the crisis manager for the Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. Office of Civil Defense administrator Ricardo Jalad will assist him.

Moreover, the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard were requested to send ships to support the delivery of much-needed supplies, equipment and food to Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. The Maritime Industry Authority was tasked to assess the condition of the ships and assist in the carriage of relief goods.

Meanwhile, the BRP Ang Pangulo will also be deployed to serve as a floating hospital to the said provinces since existing hospitals have been damaged.

Senator Go, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, warned that the typhoon could exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases as evacuees are forced to stay in crowded temporary shelters. He urged authorities to ensure the strict implementation of the health and safety protocols and provide the necessary medicines, health and hygiene supplies at every evacuation center.

“Bagamat ginagawa natin ang lahat upang mailigtas ang mga tao mula sa panganib na dulot ng bagyo, iwasan rin natin ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 at iba pang sakit sa mga sinisilungan nilang evacuation centers,” said Go.

Consistent with his earlier pronouncements, Go reaffirmed his commitment 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.

He renewed his call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 205, a measure he filed in 2019, which provides for the establishment of a highly specialized agency that will be tasked with ensuring communities are disaster-resilient, safe and adaptive. The department will focus on three key result areas, namely: (1) disaster risk reduction, (2) disaster preparedness and response, and (3) recovery and building forward better.

“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,” stressed Go.

The senator likewise called on his fellow lawmakers to act on SBN 1228 which seeks to establish a mandatory evacuation center in every province, city and municipality. Filed in 2019 by Go, the bill provides a set of minimum requirements for each evacuation center, such as its accessibility, amenities and operation and management.

“Magbayanihan at magmalasakit tayo sa ating kapwa. Kung anuman ang maitutulong natin ay gawin na natin sa abot ng ating makakaya. Sino nga ba naman ang magtutulungan kundi tayo lang po kapwa natin Pilipino,” he ended.

Go and President Duterte are expected to conduct further inspections in Bohol and Cebu on December 19.

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HNP elated over dominance of BBM-Sara UniTeam in latest Publicus survey

Hugpong ng Pagbabago Chairperson and presidential daughter Inday Sara Duterte has emerged as the top pick among the vice-presidential aspirants in the lastest Publicus Asia, Inc. survey that also showed Bongbong Marcos as the leading preferred presidential candidate.

Inday Sara, currently the mayor of Davao City, has dominated the Pahayag Quarter 4 survey areas, with 54.8 percent of the 1,500 respondents randomly sampled choosing her as their preferred vice-presidential candidate. In Mindanao, 78.6 percent of the respondents preferred Inday Sara as their vice-president.

HNP Secretary-General Anthony del Rosario said the survey results “are humbling, and at the same time, encouraging.”

Marcos, meanwhile, was also picked by 51.9 percent of the respondents as their preferred presidential candidate.

“It shows that the BBM-Sara UniTeam continues to capture the hearts of the Filipino people,” said del Rosario. “But most importantly, it leads the party and all the organizations supporting the UniTeam to focus more on the pressing challenges that we are facing today — such as recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

The BBM-Sara UniTeam has recently been holding caravans around the country, meeting local officials and organizations supporting their bid in the 2022 elections.

Del Rosario said HNP is grateful for the thousands of groups supporting the candidacy of the party chairperson and her presidential candidate, BBM.

“We would like to thank every Filipino who is supporting the vice-presidential candidacy of our chairperson, Mayor Inday Sara, and BBM, her presidential candidate,” del Rosario said. “We are urging everyone to continue with your support and join our cause up to the finish line.”

Bong Go brings hope to hundreds of cancer patients in Davao City

As he continues to push for improved access to quality healthcare services

Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher “Bong” Go honored the courage and strength of every cancer patient and survivor as he sent his team to deliver assistance to 431 cancer patients in the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City on Wednesday, December 8.

In his video message, Go saluted the patients for enduring their grueling fight against cancer.

“Nakakataba po talaga ng puso na makapiling kayo ngayon dahil alam ko po na napakarami niyo na pong pinagdaanan sa buhay at saludo talaga ako sa inyong katapangan,” Go expressed.

“Alam ko rin po kung gaano kahirap ang inyong paglalakbay patungo sa paggaling mula sa sakit na kanser. Pero sigurado po ako na ang inyong diwa at saloobin ay walang katumbas dahil pinagdaanan niyo na ang lahat,” he added.

Last July 18, the senator personally witnessed the turnover of funds from the national government to the SPMC for the installation of a new power supply for the operation of its positron emission tomography (PET) and nuclear medicine and cyclotron facilities. The said medical equipment are used to diagnose a variety of diseases, including cancers and heart diseases.

“Importante ang suporta na ibinigay ng Pangulong (Rodrigo Duterte), lalung-lalo na nasa panahon tayo ng pandemya. Ito ang pinakasentro na hospital at nandito ang heart at cancer centers at iba pang espesyalista. Bilang chair of the Senate Committee on Health, matagal na rin akong full support dito sa SPMC,” Go earlier said.

Holding the activity at the SPMC Children’s Cancer Institute, the senator’s team distributed masks and snacks to the patients. They also gave away new pairs of shoes, bicycles and computer tablets to select patients. The activity was held in batches in compliance with mandatory health protocols.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development also extended financial assistance to the cancer patients through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations program. Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority offered qualified recipients livelihood support and scholarship grants, respectively.

“I believe that you deserve to be out there and live your lives to the fullest… This is why we in government are working hard to bring quality and accessible services to alleviate your medical condition with the high hopes that you can overcome it and lead a better and healthier life,” Go stressed.

In line with his commitment to improve access to quality healthcare services, Go offered additional medical assistance to the patients and encouraged them to take advantage of the Malasakit Center at SPMC. He reassured them that the center continues to assist poor and indigent patients in reducing their hospital bills to the lowest amount possible.

Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop that brings together under one roof the DSWD, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to provide convenient access to medical assistance from the government to Filipinos nationwide.

“Nandidito rin ang Malasakit Center. Hindi na kailangan pa humingi ng tulong sa iba’t ibang opisina ang mga kababayan natin. Noon, pupunta pa ‘yan sa kanto sa PCSO, lilipat sa PhilHealth sa Matina at DSWD sa Ramon Magsaysay. Ngayon, dito na sa isang kwarto sa building ang apat na ahensya ng gobyerno na tutulong sa kanila,” said Go.

Finally, Go reassured that he will continue to push for more programs that would help more Filipino patients across the country.

“Bilang inyong Kuya Bong, asahan niyo na gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya upang isulong ang mga programa, proyekto at inisiyatibo na makakatulong sa kapakanan ninyo at mapapabuti ang kalusugan at kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan at ng bawat Pilipino,” Go ended.