PRRD, Go visit typhoon victims in Cebu and Palawan

As they both expressed their commitment to help communities recover and build back better

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go joined President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials in Palawan and Cebu on Thursday, December 23 to express solidarity and bring aid to communities hit by Typhoon Odette.

They assured typhoon victims that the government is determined to maximize all its assets to expedite relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

“Sa gitna ng mga kalamidad na ating nararanasan, nanawagan ako sa mga kapwa ko Pilipino na magkaisa para tulungan ang mga nasalanta ng Bagyong Odette,” Go appealed.

“Mahirap maramdaman ang saya ng Kapaskuhan kung alam nating may mga kababayan tayong naghihirap. Kaya wala kaming pahinga ni Pangulong Duterte at ng buong administrasyong ito sa pagsigurong makakarating ang tulong sa mga nangangailangan,” he added.

Together with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and other key officials, the President and Go met with leaders of Palawan for a situation briefing. Among those present were Governor Jose Alvarez, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Taytay Mayor Christian Rodriguez, Roxas Mayor Dennis Sabando and Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director Fernando De Villa Jr.

The President also led the ceremonial turnover of relief goods and essential supplies at the old Puerto Princesa City Airport.

Soon after, they flew to Cebu City where President Duterte met local officials and led the distribution of food packs and the ceremonial turnover of financial assistance to typhoon victims at the Labangon Elementary School gymnasium.

“Para siguraduhin ang maayos na koordinasyon ng relief at rebuilding efforts, personal po nating tinututukan nitong mga nakaraang araw ang mga pinsalang naidulot ng Bagyong Odette. Sa mga pagbisitang ito, nakipagpulong din si Pangulong Duterte sa mga lokal na opisyal upang direktang marinig mula sa kanila ang kanilang mga pangangailangan at agarang matugunan ang mga ito,” Go narrated.

“Kasalukuyang ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat upang maibalik sa lalong madaling panahon ang supply ng kuryente, komunikasyon at tubig at maipagkaloob ang mga ayuda sa mga apektadong residente. Ngunit kailangan ang whole-of-nation approach para masiguro ang mabilis at tuluy-tuloy na pagbangon ng ating mga kababayan,” he explained further.

President Duterte and Senator Go assured the local communities that the whole government is mobilizing all its assets to help them recover and build back better. The President has also directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Coast Guard and other concerned uniformed personnel and frontliners to provide needed support to the affected communities.

“Ibinilin ng Pangulo na gamitin lahat ng assets ng gobyerno upang maibangon muli ang mga komunidad na apektado. Inaasahan niya na lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno ay nakatutok sa recovery and rehabilitation efforts at walang oras o pondo na masasayang,” Go said.

To fast track all rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts, the President issued on Tuesday, December 21, Proclamation No. 1267 which placed MIMAROPA, Regions VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), VIII (Eastern Visayas), X, (Northern Mindanao) and XIII (Caraga) under a state of calamity. The declaration will remain in effect for a year until it is modified or rescinded.

In addition to hastening the delivery of government and humanitarian assistance, the proclamation also directs all concerned agencies to coordinate with, provide or augment the basic services and facilities of the affected areas. It likewise orders the law enforcement agencies, along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to undertake the necessary measures to ensure peace and order.

“Ipinaalala rin ng Pangulo na dapat mai-release na agad ang karagdagang pondo para sa mga LGUs upang makaresponde sila sa mga pangangailangan ng kanilang nasasakupan,” Go emphasized.

Two days after Typhoon Odette made landfall, Go and the President conducted aerial inspections of typhoon-ravaged areas in Visayas and Mindanao since Saturday and delivered aid to the affected families there. The two were on hand to personally give comfort and support residents of affected communities in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Negros Island from December 18 to 20.

On December 22, they returned to Siargao Island and the Dinagat Islands just as promised to personally oversee relief and rehabilitation efforts.

“Mas nanaisin ko pang mag-Pasko kapiling ang mga biktima ng bagyo dahil ito naman ang tunay na diwa ng okasyong ito — ang pagtulong, pagdadalamhati at pakikipagkapwa-tao,” Go stressed.

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Israel Extends Assistance to Typhoon-Hit Areas in the Philippines

Israeli diplomats personally extended assistance to residents affected by Typhoon Odette that wreaked havoc to the Philippines. Initial donations were turn overed to Cebu and Bohol. 

Ambassador Ilan Fluss flew to Cebu to donate four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits to the typhoon-hit residents. The Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines headed by Mr. Yoray Ofek also shared sacks of rice for Talisay, Cebu. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Mission Nir Balzam went to Bohol to turnover one unit of NUF portable water purifier, four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits. The turnover of donations in these areas were held on December 22.

“The State of Israel and the people of Israel are saddened to see the damage caused to human life, property, and resources caused by Typhoon Odette. We would like to express our sympathies and we would want the Filipinos to know that we stand by them. We are here to assist in every way that we can,” Ambassador Fluss said. The Israeli Ambassador also extended his condolences to the bereaved families of the casualties of the typhoon.

“The solar panels will be useful for areas which don’t have power supply yet. This technology is ready to use and low-maintenance,” Ambassador Fluss mentioned.

“Aside from the issues on power supply, we noticed that typhoon hit areas also experiences shortage of portable water. This Israeli-made portable water purifier will give them access to clean drinking water,” Mr. Balzam explained. 

Cebu and Bohol are two of the areas frequently visited by Israeli tourists in the Philippines. “I hope that they will recover soon and continue to feature the beauty and rich culture of these places,” Ambassador Fluss said. “It is important for a foreign diplomat like me to personally deliver this assistance to reach out to the communities and let them know that we are always ready to offer a helping hand,” he added.

Around 2,000 families received the food packs and hygiene kits. The embassy is also donating one unit of NUF portable water purifier, four solar energy systems, food packs, and hygiene kits to Siargao. 

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.

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.