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.

PRRD conducts aerial inspection of areas hardest hit by Typhoon Rolly

President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, conducted an aerial inspection of areas hardest hit by Typhoon Rolly, particularly in Bicol Region such as Catanduanes and Albay, on Monday, November 2.

The President also visited Guinobatan, Albay to meet with residents severely affected by the Typhoon. According to Go, President Duterte instructed concerned agencies to conduct an investigation on alleged quarrying operations in the area that residents complained about.

During an interview, Go said that Duterte has been working and monitoring round-the-clock developments regarding the recent devastation of Typhoon Rolly in the country, particularly in Bicol Region where the typhoon made its initial landfall.

“Hindi ibig sabihin nasa Mindanao po ang Pangulo ay hindi po siya nagta-trabaho. 24/7 po nagtatrabaho ang ating Pangulo at sinisigurado ng Pangulo na laging handa ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na magbigay kaagad ng immediate assistance sa mga lugar na maaapektuhan ng bagyo. Gusto ng Pangulo na parati tayong handa,” Go said during the interview.

The Senator added that the primary focus of the government must be on providing immediate aid to affected communities and in restoring normalcy in those areas.

“Lahat po ng ahensya ay dapat laging handa to restore normalcy ng lahat ng apektadong lugar,” Go said.

“Ipinatawag po niya ang lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno para tumulong kaagad dito sa recovery efforts,” he added.

Go urged key concerned agencies to work double time to ensure that critical services are restored and immediate aid are delivered to communities needing support from the government.

“Especially po dito sa DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), restoration ng communications natin. Sa Department of Energy, restoration ng electricity. Napaka-importante po nito, lalong-lalo na walang komunikasyon sa kanila,” he stressed.

“Not only that, pati DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), repair ng mga road and other infrastructure, lalo na po ‘yung mga critical at essential sa delivery ng goods. Ang DOTr (Department of Transportation) naman, restoration of travel by repairing damages sa mga airport and seaport dahil marami ring tinamaan din po,” he added.

“And, of course, itong DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), immediate delivery ng food packs, non-food items, mga financial assistance and even tents… And itong DOH (Department of Health), mga gamot, including mask and hygiene kits,” he added further.

Meanwhile, Go also reminded local government units to enforce strict social distancing and other health protocols in evacuation centers to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.

“Nababalitaan ko, makikita ninyo po sa telebisyon, nagkakadikit-dikit po ang tao sa pag-evacuate kahapon. ‘Di naman natin sila mapigilan nagmamadali na, nauubos oras natin tuwing mag-evacuate tayo,” Go explained.

“Apela ko lang po sa ating LGU officials at health authorities… Importante po dito social distancing, paggamit po ng mask at sanitation po dun sa evacuation center. Magtulungan na lang tayo para masunod ang heath protocols sa evacuation centers,” he added.

Go also shared that he will continue to push for his proposed measure providing for the creation of the mandatory evacuation centers in every province, city and municipality nationwide that will serve as a temporary shelter for those who are displaced by natural and man-made disasters.

“Sa ngayon po, mayroon tayong by region ang ating mga evacuation centers. Kaya nga po isa sa aking isinusulong Mandatory Evacuation Center Act of 2019. It seeks the establishment of evacuation centers in every city, province and municipality,” Go said.

“Importante sa akin dito ‘yung sanitation. Kawawa po ‘yung mga bata kung saan meron man lang silang komportableng higaan pansamantalaga habang hindi pa sila nakakabalik sa tirahan po,” he added.

Go also mentioned that he is pushing for the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) to ensure quick response and proactive and holistic approach in preparing for calamities and other natural disasters.

Furthermore, Go urged Filipinos to remain vigilant as the new Typhoon Siony is moving towards extreme northern Luzon. He also asked the public to continue to cooperate and help each other amid the ongoing crises.

“Mag-ingat po tayo sa mga kapatid nating Pilipino meron na namang parating na bagyo… Paigtingin natin ang pagdadasal, meron pang COVID-19, meron pang bagyo. Magcooperate po tayo sa gobyerno at sumunod sa mga patakaran. Para rin ito sa kabutihan ng lahat,” Go said.

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

Statement of the Palace on Taal Volcano

The Palace is closely monitoring the situation of Taal Volcano.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has upgraded the Alert Status to Level 3, which means increasing the tendency towards an eruption.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has already given instructions to undertake measures necessary to place the people within the perimeter of Taal out of the danger zone.

Concerned agencies of the national government are now working closely with the Provincial Government of Batangas to ensure the safety of the residents, including their evacuation.

We advise the public to continue to remain vigilant.

Salvador S. Panelo

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel

& Presidential Spokesperson

Davao flood victims get aid

The Davao City government allocated P50 million worth of assistance for the victims of the August 28 flood that badly hit four barangays, which were declared under state of calamity.

The amount was endorsed and approved by members of the City Council Thursday afternoon.

The amount covers the food, non-food, financial, agricultural and medical needs of the 3,559 families affected by the flooding.

This will benefit victims in barangays Talomo, Balingaeng, Los Amigos, Tugbok, Wangan, Calinan, and Catalunan Pequeño.

The budget will come from the Quick Response Fund of the city.

Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) Operations and Warnings head Rodrigo Bustillo said that due to the massive swelling of the Talomo River, four barangays were declared under state of calamity – Talomo, Wangan, Los Amigos and Tugbok.

“We are very lucky that there is no casualty recorded due to the flood, but we have to instill in the minds of the people that these affected areas are considered as hazard and no build zones and hopefully they respond to our call to vacate the area,” he said.

Bustillo said that the rescue operation ‪on Thursday night‬ could have been avoided if only the residents responded to the call of the CDRRMO and the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (BDRRMC) to evacuate.

“The City follows a no rescue policy that is why we strongly warn these people to conduct pre-emptive evacuation, but they do not cooperate with us. A rescue operation is not easy, even the rescuers are at risk,” he said.

After the thunderstorm, the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) immediately sent hot meals to the evacuation areas to fulfill the needs of the victims for hot food.

“Community kitchen was immediately set up to provide hot meals to the affected families. For now, we are still validating the total number of affected individuals since the assessment is still ongoing,” CSSDO Assistant Head Marlyn Agonia said. CIO