As the country observes National Disaster Resilience Month, Bong Go renews push for the passage of DDR, permanent evacuation center bills
As the country observes National Disaster Resilience Month, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go renewed his push for the passage of his proposed measure creating the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) and another bill mandating the establishment of mandatory evacuation centers nationwide.
Go said that there is a need for a change in mindset and approach when dealing with natural disasters and calamities given that these situations are regular occurrences in the country and the hardships caused to the people are heightened in times of crises such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is high time that we fully recognize that our country is highly vulnerable to ominous disasters given the frequency of natural calamities, like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, that hit and affect us every year,” Go said.
“Just this year, we have witnessed how pandemics and calamities pose an existential threat to the country,” Go said. “Therefore, fostering a culture of proactivity and resiliency is necessary to ensure the preparedness and safety of Filipinos during these times of crises.”
The Senator also highlighted the importance of promoting awareness, information dissemination and educating the public in a community’s disaster preparedness effort, especially as the country observes the National Disaster Resilience Month.
Executive Order No. 29 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in June of 2017 mandates the observance of National Disaster Resilience Month nationwide every July. Activities related to promoting disaster resilience covering prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and rehabilitation, and recovery are usually conducted during this month-long commemoration.
“We should acknowledge the fact that government as a whole can do more to educate and inform the public when it comes to disaster preparedness. Lalo na po sa mga LGUs na pinaka-apektado ng pandemya, malapit sa bulkan o palaging tinatamaan ng bagyo o lindol,” Go said.
“This is also one of the reasons why I am pushing for the creation of DDR. Parte ng magiging mandate nito ay ang pag-improve lalo ng information dissemination and in educating the Filipinos better on how to prepare for and respond to such crises,” he added.
Go filed in July last year Senate Bill 205 or the Department of Disaster Resilience Act which seeks to create an empowered, highly specialized and responsive DDR with clear unity of command and primarily responsible in ensuring safe, adaptive and disaster-resilient communities.
The department shall concentrate on three key result areas, namely: disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and response, and recovery and building forward better.
Presently, various government agencies dealing with disaster risk reduction and management are scattered in several departments and offices and the current lead National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is merely a coordinating body.
“Kailangan na po talaga nating i-scale up ang preparedness and resiliency against disasters. Napapanahon na din na talagang magkaroon ng sariling departamento na nakatutok talaga dito sa mga ganitong pangyayari. Mayroon dapat klarong in-charge sa ganitong mga sitwasyon,” Go previously said.
“Sa pagpapatayo ng departamentong ito, mas magiging mabilis ang pagtugon ng pamahalaan, mas maiibsan ang masamang epekto ng kalamidad at mas mabilis makakabangon ang ating mga kababayan. Kailangan ding magpatayo ng mga safe, permanent at dedicated na mga evacuation centers sa mga piling lugar,” he added.
Aside from the DDR bill, Go also filed SB 1228, also known as the Mandatory Evacuation Center Act, which will require every province, city and municipality to construct such centers that will be equipped with emergency packs, medicines and other basic necessities.
“(At least) by city or municipality po dapat. Kulang ang by region. Huwag na nating hintayin na magkaroon pa ng mga lindol o baha. Naaantala ang pag-aaral ng mga bata. Minsan nagagamit ang eskwelahan. Panahon na magkaroon na ng permanent evacuation centers, lalung lalo na po para sa mga apektadong bata,” Go said.
“Dapat may higaan, comfort rooms, ‘yung sanitation maayos, hanggang sa makauwi sila sa kanilang mga pamamahay,” he added.
While the Mandatory Evacuation Center bill is being deliberated in the Senate, Go acknowledged the need for temporary evacuation centers with the onset of the typhoon season. Go, then, urged authorities to set guidelines to ensure that these temporary evacuation centers are also COVID-proof.
“With the onset of the typhoon season, panigurado pong maraming mga Pilipinong tatamaan ng bagyo ang mangangailangan ng evacuation centers. Sana po ay maglabas ng guidelines ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) ngayon pa lamang kung papaano sisiguruhing COVID-free at sumusunod sa tamang health protocols ang gagamit ng mga evacuation centers,” Go said.
“Ayaw naman po nating magkahawaan ang ating mga kababayan na sisilong sa mga evacuation centers na ito kung kakailanganin man,” he added.
Go, then, cited his visits to victims of natural and man-made disasters where it has become clear that a proactive and holistic approach is the most effective way to address the catastrophic effects and mitigate the adverse impacts caused by pandemics and natural disasters.
“Bagama’t hindi naman nape-predict ang ganitong mga pangyayari, dapat palaging maging handa ang mga Pilipino dahil geographically and historically prone talaga sa ganitong mga disasters ang ating bansa,” Go said.
Urging the country to learn from its past mistakes and lessons from the current COVID-19 pandemic, Go said it is high time that the nation scales up its preparedness and resilience against pandemics and natural disasters.
“Huwag na po tayong magsayang ng oras. Huwag na po nating hintayin na may dumating pang matinding kalamidad na tumama sa ating bansa. It is time to scale up our preparedness and resiliency against natural disasters and pandemics,” Go said.
The Senator added that he will not limit his public service to just being a legislator and will continue to go around the country to continue assisting disaster-stricken Filipinos. Since the start of his term in July 2019, Go has helped more than 31,000 Filipino families whose houses were razed by fire incidents.
“Kahit saang sulok po ng Pilipinas, pupuntahan ko po kayo hanggang sa makakaya ko para magbigay ng tulong at mag-iwan ng ngiti sa oras ng inyong pagdadalamhati,” Go said.