PRRD, Bong Go inspect storm-hit areas in Surigao del Sur; assure immediate and holistic response from government to help affected communities build back better

President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, February 23, visited Tandag City in Surigao del Sur after its communities were severely hit by the massive flooding caused by the heavy rains brought by Tropical Storm Auring last Sunday.

During their visit, initial relief assistances were distributed to affected communities after they conducted an aerial inspection of the region and attended a situation briefing on the aftermath of the storm.

Go had earlier shared with the media about the said visit during an ambush interview after he personally visited and distributed assistance to 413 typhoon victims in Pulilan, Bulacan. “Pupuntahan po namin ni Pangulong Duterte mismo kung saan ang baha doon sa Tandag,” Go said.

“Magpapatawag po siya ng situation briefing at magbibigay po kami ng tulong sa mga kababayan natin. Magbibigay rin tayo ng solusyon sa mga problema nila at mag-iiwan ng ngiti sa panahon ng kanilang pagdadalamhati,” Go said.

During the situation briefing, Duterte instructed concerned agencies to immediately and holistically respond to the needs of affected communities. The President also stressed that he does not want local government officials to have to go to Metro Manila to personally do the follow-up.

Cabinet Secretaries were also asked to send respective representatives to Surigao del Sur within the week to assess the total damage of the typhoon and ensure that delivery of public services is unhampered. The Office of Civil Defense, as lead of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, will consolidate all actions to be taken by government agencies.

Moreover, the Department of Transportation committed to install runway lights after the construction and improvements of Tandag Airport while the Department of Public Works and Highways will coordinate with Surigao del Sur LGU regarding the needed equipment for the construction of barangay roads. The Philippine National Police also committed to ensure peace and order in the area as well as continuously address concerns of insurgencies.

Auring, the first storm in 2021, brought floodwaters in Surigao del Sur which inundated houses and communities, displacing almost 10,000 families or around 30,650 individuals, according to the provincial disaster response officials.

On February 22, Tandag City Mayor Roxanne Cabrera-Pimentel said that she would ask the city council to declare a state of calamity in the city following the disaster that caused PhP60 million worth of damage on the province’s rice farms alone.

In December last year, Surigao del Sur was also hit by Tropical Depression Vicky, causing heavy flooding and leaving three dead and two missing persons. In January, Go, during a series of aid distribution activities, extended various forms of aid to thousands of victims in the province as part of his commitment to continue helping communities affected by crises recover more quickly and build back better.

Go also reiterated his call for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience to ensure quick response and proactive and holistic approach in preparing for calamities and other natural disasters.

Last 2019, Go filed Senate Bill No. 205, also known as the Department of Disaster Resilience Act of 2019. A second committee hearing had already been conducted by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security. The House of Representatives earlier passed its own counterpart last September of last year.

“Sa pagtatag ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan at mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng mga kalamidad. Sa tulong nito, mas mabilis ding makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan pagkatapos ng mga sakuna,” he added.

If passed into law, the DDR will consolidate the essential functions of all disaster-related agencies into a single department. This allows for a more aggressive, concerted approach toward disaster risk reduction as well as the faster and more efficient delivery of services during crises and faster recovery and rehabilitation.

Bong Go appeals anew to national government to replenish calamity funds of LGUs also hit by Typhoon Ulysses

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed again to the national government to assist local government units also affected by Typhoon Ulysses by augmenting their calamity funds equivalent to 1% of their respective Internal Revenue Allotment.

Earlier, Go successfully appealed to the budget department to augment the same funds of LGUs hit by Super Typhoon Rolly that earlier wrought devastation in many areas in Luzon, particularly Bicol and parts of southern Luzon.

According to the Senator, most of the calamity funds of LGUs have been depleted due to the unexpected pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that continues to affect the lives of Filipinos.

“Umaapela ako ulit sa ating gobyerno, kay Pangulo at sa DBM, na tulungan ang mga pinaka-apektadong LGUs na nangangailangan ng dagdag na calamity funds para mas makaresponde sa mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga kababayan,” Go said.

“Kailangan nila ng dagdag na pondo para makabili ng pagkain, gamot at iba pang gamit para maalagaan ang mga nasalanta at matulungang makabangon muli. Kahit at least 1% lang po ay i-replenish ninyo, malaki nang tulong ito,” he appealed.

Go’s appeal came after calls for assistance from affected LGUs as their calamity funds have been exhausted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent string of typhoons that hit the country the past months.

“Malaki po ang magagawa ng pondong ito upang mapunan ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga komunidad, lalo na’t nabawasan na ang kanilang naunang pondo dahil sa pandemya,” he added.

Go also suggested that the executive department may explore the possibility for incremental provision of additional funds to severely affected LGUs depending on the extent of the needs of communities and on the availability of funds.

“Sunud-sunod ang mga sakuna at krisis na dumating sa ating bansa. Kaya ngayon na may hinaharap silang panibagong krisis, huwag natin silang pabayaan at bigyan natin sila ng dagdag na tulong. Sabi nga ng Pangulo, no one should be left behind,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Go also urged LGUs to monitor evacuation sites and that health protocols are properly followed since COVID-19 has not yet been fully contained in the country. He added that protocols must be in place to avoid the further spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

“Sa mga LGU officials, tutukan natin ang mga evacuation sites dahil kailangan masunod ang mga health protocols. Narito pa rin ang COVID-19 at habang wala pang bakuna para dito, patuloy dapat tayong maging alerto at iwasan ang pagkakahawaan,” he added.

Go also mentioned that the government is monitoring the development of the vaccine as it was reported that two vaccines have reached at least 90% efficiency against the virus. He stressed the need to plan, communicate and implement a national vaccination program to guarantee equitable access and systematic provision once safe and effective vaccines are made available.

“Siguraduhin nating magkaroon ng access ang mga pinaka-nangangailangan, lalo na ang mga mahihirap at vulnerable sectors. Sila ang kailangan lumabas at magtrabaho upang buhayin ang pamilya nila,” he said.

Bong Go welcomes creation of task force for post-disaster rehabilitation while DDR is still pending legislation

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.

Bong Go asks national government to replenish calamity fund of typhoon-hit LGUs

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Friday, November 6, has renewed his appeal to the Department of Budget and Management to consider augmenting the calamity fund of local government units severely hit by Super Typhoon Rolly recently.

Go urged the DBM to provide replenishment of calamity funds in typhoon-hit areas, particularly in Regions IV-A, IV-B and V, by augmenting their local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund equivalent to 1% of their respective Internal Revenue Allotments.

“Inuulit ko po ang aking apela sa DBM na pag-aralan ang pagbibigay ng karagdagang pondo para sa mga LGUs na pinakanaapektuhan ng Bagyong Rolly. Kahit at least 1% lang po ay i-replenish ninyo, malaki nang tulong ito,” Go said.

“Malaki po ang magagawa ng pondong ito upang mapunan ang mga pangangailangan ng kanilang mga komunidad, lalo na’t naubos na ang kanilang naunang pondo dahil sa pandemya,” he added.

Go’s appeal came after calls for assistance from affected LGUs as their calamity funds have been exhausted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and by the recent string of typhoons that hit the country the past months.

Go also suggested that the executive department may explore the possibility for incremental provision of additional funds to severely affected LGUs depending on the extent of the needs of communities and on the availability of funds.

Go earlier said that providing additional financial assistance to the typhoon-hit LGUs will be a big help for them in purchasing food products and other essential items for affected constituents.

“I’m appealing to the executive, kay Pangulong Duterte, kay [DBM] Sec. [Wendel] Avisado na tulungan po ‘yung mga LGUs na wala na pong calamity fund para po magamit nila dito sa typhoon, pambili ng pagkain, pambili po ng gamot, dahil sunod-sunod po itong disaster na ating kinakaharap,” Go said earlier.

Before Super Typhoon “Rolly” made a landfall, Go said that he has already informed Avisado that LGUs will face a big problem given that most of their respective calamity funds have already been utilized in their respective COVID-19 responses.

“Ngayon, nabigla sila dahil sa bagyo, so baka kulang o wala na silang gagamitin para magbigay ng tulong sa mga apektado ng bagyo,” he added.

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5th PRRD SONA to bring hope of a better future for Filipinos amid ongoing challenges — Sen. Bong Go

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” shared his optimism that President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address this coming Monday, July 27, will bring hope of a better future for Filipinos despite the ongoing challenges the country is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senator said that he is also expecting the President to provide concrete plans and proposed legislative measures to strengthen the government’s efforts to overcome the ongoing crisis and steer the country towards socio-economic recovery.

“I am expecting that the President will focus his 5th SONA on measures (1) to strengthen our fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, (2) to address the needs of the people to overcome the hardships that the crisis has caused in everyone’s lives, and also, (3) to sustain the gains of the Duterte Administration’s promise of a comfortable life for all despite the challenges that we are facing,” said Go in a statement.

“Our goal now is not only to adapt to the ‘new normal’, but to lead our country towards a ‘better normal’ and better quality of life,” he added.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go is confident that primary importance will be placed on measures ramping up the healthcare system’s capacity at all levels.

“Aside from enhancing our overall capacity to Test, Trace and Treat COVID-19 cases, I am hoping that he will also prioritize improving the capacities and capabilities of public hospitals, establishing mandatory quarantine facilities and evacuation centers, strengthening our health workforce, promoting the welfare and well-being of our medical frontliners, and preparing a national vaccine program for COVID-19 in anticipation of its availability to ensure that Filipinos can have access to it,” Go said.

With this, Go expects to see more of health-related bills to be prioritized as both Houses of Congress are set to open their second regular session of the 18th Congress next week. Recently, Go also called for the development of a national vaccine program for the strategic allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine to the general population in anticipation of possible challenges once the vaccine is made available.

“Kapag dumating ang panahon na mayroon nang vaccine at gamot laban sa COVID-19, dapat handa tayo na mabigyan ang lahat ng Pilipinong nangangailangan nito, mahirap man o mayaman,” Go said previously.

Go also said he expects the President will shed a spotlight on key economic responses to mitigate the human and economic impact of the pandemic.

“Pangalawa, bibigyang pansin rin n’ya ang mga pangangailangan ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan na hirap na hirap na sa sitwasyon ngayon. Kasama na dyan ang pagpapabuti ng mga government assistance programs for the poor, livelihood opportunities for displaced workers, and stimulus programs to jumpstart the economy,” Go said.

“Dahil apektado ang lahat ng sektor ng lipunan dahil sa pandemya, prayoridad rin ng Pangulo na siguraduhing hindi tumigil ang serbisyong dapat natatanggap ng mga tao,” he added.

Go also said that efficient, effective and responsive government service delivery must be sustained despite the ordeal in order for citizens to continue to develop and for the businesses to help jumpstart the economy.

“Kasama dito ang mga plano kung paano makapagpapatuloy ang pag-aaral ng mga bata, ang kabuhayan ng mga nawalan ng trabaho, ang pag-alaga sa ating nga OFWs at ang pagbibigay ng pang-araw-araw na serbisyo ng gobyerno sa ligtas na paraan,” he said.

Despite the challenges faced this year, Go expects the Duterte administration to continue working hard in order to fulfill its promise of a comfortable life for all Filipinos.

“Inaasahan kong sisiguraduhin rin ng Pangulo na hindi mapapabayaan ang mga naunang mga prayoridad sa kanyang termino, tulad ng Build Build Build Projects at iba pang programa na naglalayong mabigyan ng komportable at ligtas na buhay ang lahat ng Pilipino. Kasama na diyan ang patuloy na laban kontra iligal na droga, ang seguridad at kapayapaan sa loob at labas ng bansa, at pagpapalakas ng ating disaster resiliency efforts,” he stressed.

As the Duterte administration enters the latter part of its term, Go said that the President remains determined in improving the lives of Filipinos by consistently pushing for development in all parts of the country and by continuously aiming to bring government services closer to the people.

“Dahil sa epekto rin ng pandemya, may mga inisyatibo ang Pangulo tulad ng Balik Probinsya Program na magbibigay ng bagong pag-asa at mas magandang buhay sa mga Pilipino kung pipiliin nilang manirahan sa kanilang mga probinsya,” he said.

“Kasama rin sa layunin nating mailapit ang gobyerno sa tao, mapabilis ang pagbigay tulong, mabawasan ang red tape, at maitigil ang korapsyon, naniniwala akong bibigyang pansin rin niya ang rekomendasyon ko na gawing prayoridad ang transition to E-governance,” he added.

Go also expressed his faith that the country will bounce back from this crisis with a deeper commitment of improving the lives of fellow Filipinos.

“Malayo na ang ating narating mula nang umupo si Pangulong Duterte. Bagama’t patuloy ang mga pagsubok na ating hinaharap, hinuhubog rin nito ang ating kakayahan at pagkatao upang mas makapagserbisyo pa lalo sa ating kapwa tungo sa tunay na pagbabago,” he said.

“Ako naman po, uunahin ko palagi ang interes, kapakanan, at buhay ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan na pinagsisilbihan ko. Patuloy ko rin pong susuportahan ang mga mithiin at mga ipinaglalaban ni Pangulong Duterte para mabigyan ng mas maayos na kinabukasan ang bawat Pilipino,” he ended.

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